Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill & Margarita Bar

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Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill & Margarita Bar
Industry Restaurants
Founded 1975 in New Albany, Indiana
Founders George R. Keller
Linda Keller
Headquarters Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Key people
Mathew Higgins President and CEO
Products Steak, chicken, and seafood cooked in a Southwest Mesquite style
Revenue $61 million (2006)
$60 million (2006)
Website www.tumbleweedrestaurants.com

Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill & Margarita Bar (formerly Tumbleweed Southwest Grill) is a chain restaurant based in Louisville, Kentucky The original location was in Louisville on Mellwood Avenue adjacent to the Fischer Packing Company plant. It had been a tavern frequented by the plant workers for many years before adding food service and occasional live music.


Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill & Margarita Bar serves Southwest-style foods. The original restaurant opened in 1975 in New Albany, Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville. George R. Keller and wife Linda started the chain across the road from New Albany High School. Then later in 1978 Linda would utilize her parents' Hillside Manor restaurant and bar to turn it into a Tumbleweed. This location in Louisville became the flagship for the restaurant chain.

Shortly after, the restaurant expanded to locations across the river. It now operates over 30 locations restaurants in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio,[1] including company-owned and franchise locations. Locations in Illinois and Wisconsin closed in 2008 after the local franchise owner filed for bankruptcy.[2]

In 1995, the Kellers sold the business to sixty local area investors for US$9.8 million and an additional US$1 million in a clause not to compete against the company's new owners. The company then became a publicly traded company to help fuel its expansion in the Midwest and overseas markets. John Butorac, Jr., took over as president of the company, he was also the former vice president for Chi-Chi's.[3]

In 2002, Terrance Smith, CEO of the establishment, was seeking ownership of the company with two other investors.[4] However, on December 18, 2007, Terrance Smith resigned as President and CEO after seven years when the views of the company's board of directors began to diverge from his views.[5] Matthew Higgins became the new President and CEO of the company, with his twin brother, Michael Higgins, as COO.[6] Financially, the company that the Higgins from Smith was not doing very well so Tummbleweed was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2009.[7] At the time of filing, the firm had 37 company-owned or franchised locations left in the states of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky and had one licensed location each in Germany and Kuwait. The company was able to emerge from bankruptcy the following year.[8] Still, the company was not performing as well as it would like was forced to close 8 out of 32 remaining locations in the tri-state area in 2014 after previously withdrawing from overseas operations.[9]


An example of Queso.

Tumbleweed serves an American-Mexican cuisine in a combination Tex-Mex and Southwest style. They specialize in a chili con queso.[10] Tumbleweed's menu includes Continental food, encompassing such foods as chicken and steak. The other major style of cuisine is a Mexican-themed menu, including burritos, chimichangas, and a variety of house salads.


In 1999, Tumbleweed began to expand overseas[11] and had restaurants located in the following places by 2006,[12]

Sedona Grill[edit]

In 2007, Tumbleweed Restaurants decided that it wanted to expand into the upscale restaurant field by opening a separate chain called Sedona Grill with the first location being opened in Lima, Ohio in early 2007.[13] The original plan was to have five locations opened by the end year. Unfortunate, only one other location was opened, also in Ohio, before the company finally closed the money losing operation at the beginning of 2008.[14][15]


  1. ^ "Locations". Tumbleweed Restaurants. 
  2. ^ Hajewski, Doris (December 1, 2008). "Tumbleweed restaurants close in Wisconsin". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 
  3. ^ Kleber, John E., ed. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Louisville. University Press of Kentucky. p. 894. ISBN 9780813128900. Retrieved 2012-01-24 – via Google Books. 
  4. ^ "Tumbleweed Southwest Grill. (Just In)". Alacra. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ "Smith resigns as Tumbleweed CEO". Louisville Business First. December 18, 2007. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "Tumbleweed chain seeks Chapter 11". WHAS-TV. October 13, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Tumbleweed, CFS emerge from Chapter 11 with new owners, vision". Louisville Business First. April 19, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Tumbleweed closes restaurants, refocuses brand". Louisville Business First. January 14, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Menu". Tumbleweed Restaurants. 
  11. ^ "Louisvillians to take Tumbleweeds around the world". Louisville Business First. May 11, 1998. 
  12. ^ "International Locations". Tumbleweed Restaurants. Archived from the original on 2006-12-30. 
  13. ^ "Hot idea: Tumbleweed Inc. goes upscale with new Sedona Grill concept". Louisville Business First. May 21, 2007. (subscription required (help)). 
  14. ^ "Adios, Sedona ... Tumbleweed is sticking with its Southwest roots". Louisville Business First. February 25, 2008. (subscription required (help)). 
  15. ^ Crea, Joe (January 16, 2008). "Sedona Grill closes in Sheffield Village". Cleveland Plain Dealer.