The premier country music venue in New York, the Texas-themed Lone Star Café opened in February 1976 and was recognizable for many blocks by the 40-foot sculpture of a spiny iguana (created by artist Bob “Daddy-O” Wade) that sat on the roof of the building. In the narrow, rectangular interior, a winding staircase at one side of the low stage led to additional seating in the balcony where patrons craned their necks for a better view of the show.
Willie Nelson and Roy Orbison made their first New York appearance in many years at the Lone Star, in 1979 and 1981 respectively. John Belushi and Dan Akroyd debuted there as the Blues Brothers in 1977. Other Lone Star headliners included Carl Perkins, Delbert McClinton, Memphis Slim, Bobby Bare, Roy Buchanan, Jerry Jeff Walker, Albert Collins, Irma Thomas, and Ernest Tubb. Singer/songwriter and 2006 Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman was long-running attraction, and his 1987 detective novel A Case of Lone Star is set in the milieu of the club.
When the Lone Star Café closed in April 1989, owner Mort Cooperman already had opened the larger Lone Star Roadhouse at 240 West 52nd Street. The scene of Garth Brooks’ first New York appearance, it was shuttered circa 1992.