Cave Creek’s Horny Toad to celebrate 40 year milestone

Jeff and Tom Price (submitted photo)

Jeff and Tom Price (submitted photo)

Few restaurants and saloons survive to experience four decades in business.

However, The Horny Toad continues to grow and thrive as it prepares to celebrate its longevity as the oldest, original restaurant in Cave Creek.

Glenn and Marian Price, who purchased The Horny Toad in 1976, had more than 25 years of experience as restaurant owners in Michigan for many years, according to a press release.

Today, son Jeff Price is managing partner along with the managing staff of Tom Price, Pam Hurst, and Jim Leonard. The restaurant’s chef, Don Dantine, has been with The Horny Toad for more than 28 years, overseeing an experienced staff that is dedicated to making each visit one that customers won’t forget.

Approximately 35 employees now work for the historic establishment, which can seat 234 customers.

The early years

The Horny Toad’s original building was actually a home in 1932, the release stated. Prior to the Price’s purchase of the property, the establishment was known as Dirty Will’s Mustache Cup; Dirty Will was a supervisor at the Cave Creek dump.

“It was quite ­ and remains ­ an interesting place,” stated Frank Imel, who has provided construction and maintenance for the complex since its purchase, in the release. “In the early days, the saloons in town were Harold’s (a very tiny bar at the time), The Maverick (now the Buffalo Chip), The Horny Toad and The Treehouse restaurant. Visitors had to wait three or four hours to get into these places because there were so few to choose from. However, the Toad was the only place that had a full dining menu.”

Jeff Price worked for his dad for about five years before Price senior retired.

“The Horny Toad is the oldest, originally-owned restaurant in Cave Creek,” stated Jeff Price in the release. “Years ago, people rode their horses to our establishment and tied them right outside. From the beginning, and ongoing today, I have been blessed with a dedicated management team and the most committed wait staff around.”

Over the years, the restaurant has made many changes, the release stated. The original tiny kitchen was expanded dramatically to feature a barbecue cooking station, a large food prep area, more refrigeration, coolers and storage.

These additions had to be completed quickly as the restaurant could not afford a long shutdown time; it took one week and 50 workers laboring 24 hours a day to get the job done. The restaurant’s newest seating area features a wall made from rocks from New River, the release stated.

Roughly 15-years-ago, a large, dog-friendly patio was added to the west side of the restaurant with more additions planned in the coming months. Above the large patio is a one-of-a-kind handmade metal overhang that features welded horny toads and curved metal features that represent Indian sun images.

The exterior of The Horny Toad (submitted photo)

The exterior of The Horny Toad (submitted photo)

The shops

The current shopping complex behind the restaurant ­ known as The Horny Toad Shops ­ originally incorporated only 620 square feet. The first shop, constructed in 1931, was a tack room and feed storage room.

At the end of 1976, a pottery store and an Indian rug retailer came to life followed by bike rentals and unique retail.

After a recent land swap agreement with the Town of Cave Creek, The Horny Toad received a left turn lane off of Cave Creek Road, garnered more room for an additional patio and other commercial growth opportunities.

World famous food

The Horny Toad offers world-famous signature dishes including made-from-scratch fried chicken, scrumptious barbecue chicken and homemade secret barbecue sauce, pork and beef ribs and mesquite-grilled porterhouse, top sirloin and rib eye steaks, prime rib and award-winning strawberry shortcake.

The Horny Toad has earned numerous awards for its food including Best Fried Chicken, Best Steakhouse, Best BBQ ribs and Best Dessert for its strawberry shortcake, the release stated.

Famous attracts the famous

The Toad has been a famous film location for western movies and photo shoots.

The rustic looking establishment, which is filled with beautiful wood, stained glass and historical memorabilia, is a favorite not only of locals and visitors, but also of the rich and famous, the release stated.

According to Mr. Imel, the restaurant is a long time favorite of Paul Harvey, Emmitt Smith, Michael Jordan, George Benson, Charles Barkley, Hugh Downs, the Ultimate Warrior and Dick Van Dyke, among others.

“Consistency in food quality, customer service, hard work, a little luck and a great vision to make each customer’s experience a memorable one,” stated Tom Price in the release. “The management team is committed to this brand and all it has come to mean to the customers who grace this special place.”

The Horny Toad is located at 6738 E. Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek.

For more information call 480-488-9542 or visit www.thehornytoad.com.

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