Husband and wife team, Bill and Marna Prather,
explains, "At that point, Marna
and I said, 'If you're selling, we're buying."
expand from there to their current six restaurants in Arizona with a seventh to be opened in Surprise
However, it was not an easy ride for the
Marna says, "Bill went from CEO of Hardee's
Marna, who worked for Burger King and Coca Cola in marketing, focuses on the marketing, restaurant design and customer relations.
created the concept of El Paso's look based on a piece of artwork she
found in a Scottsdale gallery of a sexy woman dressed in a yellow slicker as a cowgirl.
explains, "It's more contemporary Western than old town barbecue.
works with this overall theme in each restaurant but says each
one has something unique.
In 1994, Marna
and Bill took over the El Paso
continue its expansion, but Bill and Marna
will continue to care for each restaurant as their own.
A small house in North Carolina, a plantation-sized backyard, and pressure for the new president of the town's largest employer to put on a party no one would soon forget - these were the parameters for the first soiree Marna and husband Bill Prather, current CEO and Vice President of El Paso Barbeque, Inc., hosted.
"It would just be great food," Marna
says, "and a little bit of entertainment and flowers around the house."
The food, though, has undergone some change.
From hot and cold stations set up around the backyard to pastas and sauces, to chocolate fondue with fruit, to 2003's Christmas party at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess with a tequila station and a Spanish coffee bar - the catering has often been as entertaining as the scheduled entertainment.
Like their festive cuisine, the feel of the Prathers' parties has evolved over the years. (Just try dishing out pasta to today's carb-phobic crowds.) When they began, their events were more casual than the rest and, as such, were reflections of the Prathers' personalities.
But eventually even casual didn't cut it.
"After doing the big corporate thing and entertaining a lot," Marna
admits, "our lifestyle changed.
"Usually we leave when things are starting to really get going," Marna
says, "because we don't need to be there to see people dancing on the tables."
"Yeah, that would be fun," Marna
rejoins, "because there are so many people here who are weekend bikers now.