Whether you love them or hate them, you can't escape them -- not even if you leave Houston. Over the past ten years, Landry's has become a household name. Besides owning such well-known restaurants as Saltgrass Steak House, Aquarium, and Vic and Anthony's, Landry's has dabbled in the hotel and gaming industry, opening the Inn at the Ballpark in 2004 and acquiring Las Vegas's Golden Nugget in 2005.
Called the Donald Trump of the restaurant industry, Tilman Fertitta is the founder and President of Landry's Restaurants, Inc. He first entered the restaurant industry in the early 1980s, and it has been a rollercoaster ever since. Whether you're in Houston, San Antonio, Denver or Kansas City, you're sure to find Fertitta's footprint.
In 2003, Landry's opened the infamous Downtown Aquarium here in Houston. The Disneyland-esque attraction includes a 100,000-gallon, floor-to-ceiling aquarium; a 200,000-gallon shark tank; and a Ferris wheel. But Landry's isn't just chain restaurants and amusement parks. It owns some of Houston's most high-dollar restaurants, including Brenner's Steakhouse and Pesce.
At one point this decade, Landry's appeared unstoppable. There were even rumors that Fertitta was trying to bring his newly found gaming business to Galveston Island via his $30 million purchase of Galveston's convention center (now officially part of an island conglomerate known as Fertitta Hospitality). September 2008 was a game changer for Landry's, when Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston and Houston. Many of you may remember watching the news footage of waves washing away most of Kemah and Galveston. Mother Nature stopped Landry's in its tracks.
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The company suffered an estimated $50 million in damage from the hurricane. Some of its restaurants didn't reopen until 2009. But, just like many Houstonians, Landry's bounced back quickly, and we'll be hearing more about Fertitta in the next decade.