From horsepower to hamburgers, Texas Proud Bar & Grill serves the hungry adrenaline seekers of Central Texas.
Located at 704 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd. in downtown Killeen, the bar has fed and entertained the motor heads of Killeen since opening Aug. 15.
“Our goal is to make everyone feel welcomed here,” said Wayne “Wiz” Whisenhunt, owner of Texas Proud Custom Cycles and Texas Proud Bar & Grill. “This is not just a biker bar. Texas Proud is a place where anyone can come in and feel accepted. We’ve got good food, a family-style atmosphere and good live music.”
Whisenhunt, a Killeen native, has had gasoline running through his veins from the time he was born. His father, a soldier stationed at Fort Hood and an avid drag racer, got the young Whisenhunt interested in mechanics and motorcycles from a very early age.
“I got my first bike when I was 15, a 3½ horsepower Rupp mini bike,” Whisenhunt said. “I ended up wrapping it around a tree and had to start working at the Harley-Davidson dealership my father managed to pay for the repairs, and I’m still working on Harleys 35 years later.”
Whisenhunt’s first business, Texas Proud Custom Cycles, began small in 2001. Over the years, it has grown into an almost unrecognizable mecca for Central Texas bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts.
With a full garage offering powder coat, painting, fabrication and distribution of parts, Texas Custom Cycles produces two-wheeled art for clients in and around Central Texas.
At Texas Proud Bar & Grill and a tattoo shop now on the premises, customers can get inked up and grab a beer and some food while waiting on their motorcycles to be worked on in the garage.
“I love this place,” said Matt Numm, a painter by day and bassist by night. “I’ve been coming since the beginning, back when it was called Joker’s. I’ve played a few shows in here back in the day, and this is one of my all-time favorite bars in Texas. The acoustics in here are amazing and are perfect for a show.”
Texas Proud Bar & Grill started out as Joker’s Ice House in 2009. Whisenhunt and the owner of Joker's parted ways this year and Joker's moved to Stan Schluter Boulevard. Whisenhunt reopened his restaurant as Texas Proud Bar & Grill, offering hungry customers a variety of interesting menu options.
“My favorite thing here is the fried armadillo eggs,” Numm said. “They are a jalapeño stuffed with chopped beef and cream cheese, then fried … they are the best.”
Sees bright future
With the early success of his newest venture, Whisenhunt looks ahead and sees a bright future for his business.
“I want to start franchises ... if Hooters can do it, then why can’t I?” Whisenhunt said. “If Texas Proud continues to grow in popularity like it was when we first opened up (as Joker’s) in 2009, then I think I could definitely see another franchise popping up in the next two years.”
Whisenhunt gives credit to the military for making his businesses, and others in the Killeen area, successful.
“Without the military, none of this would be possible,” he said. “I thank God every day that he has gotten me through so much and allowed me to stay in business for close to 13 years. But I’m not doing this for the money; I am doing it because it makes me rich in heart serving the soldiers and the city of Killeen.”