Like any long-married couple, Earl and Pat Donaldson of Atlanta enjoy a lot of the same things: daily walks, spending time with the grandkids — and dining every week at LongHorn Steakhouse.
Their stroll down Memory Lane includes many stops at LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants. They have eaten at more than 100 of them since the mid-1980s, when they began dining at LongHorn at least twice a week. Earl visited numerous locations when he traveled on business, but their home restaurant at Toco Hills now gets the lion’s share of their loyalty. “We think of LongHorn Steakhouse as our family,” Pat said.
Every Friday, Earl and Pat can be found splitting an order of LongHorn Salmon. On Sundays, they each enjoy a small Flo’s Filet, a New York Strip or a Ribeye.
“When we walk in at Toco Hills, they bring Earl’s sweet tea and my water right away,” she said. “We don’t even have to ask. They know I don’t want croutons on my Caesar Salad, and I want light dressing. It blows my mind that they remember all these things. It’s amazing!”
The Donaldsons are especially fond of Servers Alex Muse, Eileen Otwell and Carol Jolly and Bartender Beth Chaney. “Managing Partner Carrie Strickland runs a wonderful restaurant,” Pat said. “She’s very conscientious and she’s always on the move, making sure all the guests are happy.”
“Pat and Earl Donaldson are such amazing people,” Carrie said. “The presence they carry with them is always so upbeat, positive and kind.”
Although the couple stay closer to home these days, back when Earl traveled for his work as a public-speaking and salesmanship trainer, he always ate lunch at the nearest LongHorn Steakhouse. That sometimes required a long drive, but he didn’t mind. It was worth it.
“There are a lot of LongHorn Steakhouse locations in Georgia,” Earl said, “and it dawned on me that since I was going to so many, I might as well keep a record.” So he started collecting business cards from the managing partners at each LongHorn Steakhouse, and he now has about 125 of them, which he keeps in two large books. The grand tally includes restaurants in Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and the Washington, DC, area as well as every LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant in Georgia.
Earl and Pat, married 57 years, have four children and eight grandchildren. They are expecting their first great-grandchild in June. One of their grandsons, Tom, worked at the LongHorn Steakhouse in Toco Hills for two years as a host and server while he attended college. “He got a really good start there,” Pat said.
The couple walk every day and stay active in their church, where Earl teaches a Sunday school class called “Joy.” They enjoy Atlanta’s botanical gardens and museums. “We never stop learning,” Pat said.
“No matter how old we get, we really enjoy these experiences. We have so much more to do in this world. We’re going to the zoo this afternoon, and tonight, we’ll be back at LongHorn.”