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Upscale farm-to-table restaurant draws diners to small town Texas

Upscale farm to table restaurant draws diners to small town Texas
Upscale farm to table restaurant draws diners to small town Texas 03:16

HICO - You'll need an empty stomach, but a full tank of gas to take advantage of a hot new restaurant that opened up earlier this year. 

It's quite a bit southwest of Fort Worth, but we recently hit the road to Hico, the one-stoplight town of 1,300 residents best known as the former home of Billy the Kid.

"High-ko" Austin Odom says it's pronounced. "Not hick-oh," laughs his wife, Shannon Odom.

The two own OmaLeen's, an upscale restaurant in rural Texas named for their grandmothers, Oma and Willene.

"If our grandma's names are on it, then we better be doing good. We can't half… anything," says Shannon Odom.

While small-town life in Hico may seem slow, the couple's restaurant sure isn't.

Lunch draws a crowd and dinners are by reservation only.

"It just keeps growing. Every weekend is busier and busier," says Shannon Odom.

All the food is made from scratch and most ingredients are locally sourced.

"We have access to all of these awesome farmers that we could get lamb, beef, all different vegetables," says Shannon Odom.

The kitchen opens to the dining area, where you'll see the couple heavily involved in the cooking process.

"Every dish that leaves the kitchen we're touching," says Austin Odom.

More than an hour's drive from any major city, Omaleen's is inspiring people to make the drive.

"A lot of people tell us we're out of place. Like they can't imagine getting an espresso martini in Hico," said Nathan Miller, the restaurant's bartender.

"I think we've brought new faces to Hico," says Austin Odom.

Out here, people are used to driving.

"Everything is at least a 30-minute drive," said Chastity DeKay who stopped by with her husband for lunch.

"The rest come from Fort Worth and Dallas. Austin. Someone drove up from Houston the other week," said Austin Odom.

"I think it's an adventure for people," said Shannon Odom.

The experience has garnered plenty of five-star reviews.

"We were planning on eating off each other's and taking what was left home, but we both ate all of ours," said DeKay.

For all their success, though, the Odoms are entirely self-taught chefs.

"Trial and error," said Austin Odom of his education in the kitchen.

As a student at Tarleton University, Shannon Odom sold prepared meals to her professors.

"I am obsessed with FOOD," she said.

The only prior restaurant experience either had before launching their own was Shannon Odom's short gig at a Chili's.

"I was a server for a week. I got fired," she admits.

Years later, they're still committed to learning.

"I don't claim to know everything. He doesn't claim to know everything," said Shannon Odom.

"I don't claim to know anything," Austin Odom chimes in.

"Every week we keep getting better," said Shannon Odom.  

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