Friday, November 14, 2008

Longtime Top Notch manager dies

Although I was not a regular patron, I was saddened to hear about the death of Top Notch manager James Stanish at age 50. Stanish died unexpectedly in his sleep on Sunday. The restaurant has been closed ever since and its future is currently uncertain.

The Stanish family has owned Top Notch since the early Seventies. Stanish started working there when he was 12. He was the only person in possession of the Burnet Road drive-in's secret sauce recipe. Aside from burgers and fried chicken, the restaurant's biggest claim to fame came in 1993, when Austin-based director Richard Linklater used Top Notch as a focal point for Dazed and Confused.

The thing I admired most about Top Notch is the fact that Stanish closed the place for two weeks every summer and hung a giant banner out front that read, "On vacation." I always found it quite heartening to pass by that banner every morning on the way into work.

UPDATE (11/19/08): KVUE says Top Notch will reopen on Monday.


David Wyatt said...

I ate at Top Notch weekly as a kid. I knew this day would come, although it doesn't make it any less sad. There will always be a No. 2 Dinner in my heart for this place.

Anonymous said...

Sad news...even sadder news is the secret sauce is really ketchup and mayo mixed together.
I do hope they reopen as soon as they can. Its a great place and a great sign.

David Syzdek said...

I ate there once when I was a kid, but then again, I grew up in Nevada. Ray was my cousin. I was in Austin the week after he died but didn't get a chance to go by the restaurant. Hopefully, it will be open when I get to Austin again.