Since opening 12 years ago in Grand Forks, Texas Roadhouse has become one of the busiest restaurants. Customers arrive early, and many wait their turn for seating. Others call ahead for seating.

The place is loud, lively and friendly. While the best seller is ribeye, people have various reasons they like Texas Roadhouse.

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Nikki Nelson, a stylist at Salon East, loves the green beans. Like others, she has found the Early Dine special for $9.99 on weeknights a draw.

When I asked friends at bridge club, the response was loud and clear. They like the early dine specials before 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 2 p.m. Sunday. Some of them think the chili is especially good. Another said she always takes home enough food for lunch the next day.

On my recent visit to the Roadhouse with Susie Shaft (SS), we sat at the bar rather than waiting for a booth. That turned out to be a great experience because of the friendly service by Nick and Melanie. These two are efficient.

We took an unusual route and ordered grilled shrimp ($14.99). While we waited for our order, SS and I watched a myriad of sports on television. We visited with a couple from Middle River. There were people coming and going. Servers occasionally formed dancing lines, and there were free peanuts sitting around.

These are the friendly features that endear me to the Texas Roadhouse. It is not a quiet, candlelight type of place. There are kids and ranger meals for those 12 and younger.

The first Texas Roadhouse was opened in 1993 in Clarksville, Ind., by Kent Taylor. One of the earliest Texas Roadhouses in this area was Sioux Falls, S.D. Whenever we were out on the road back then, I would suggest a stop or an overnight stay there - just to eat at the Roadhouse. And there was a report of 563 locations around the nation this year. Their reputation is said to be based on steaks and ribs for all ages at great prices. That, along with early bird specials, line dancers and friendly service has become the success story.

The menu is varied. It includes seafood and chicken specialties. And there are country dinners featuring pork chops.

Texas Roadhouse

3200 32nd Ave. S.

Telephone: (701) 746-7427

Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with closing at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 p.m. Sunday

Average ticket: $15 to $17

Report card: With seating for 274 and barrels of free peanuts, this family restaurant has become one of the busiest in Grand Forks. While steaks are featured, there are salads, chicken specialties and dockside choices of seafood. The restaurant has several cooks, but does not feature a chef. Service is good. Better than average. Parking can be tricky, although there is space for 110 cars.