Texas Country Reporter featuring Lubbock staple Orlando’s this week

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) — The Texas Country Reporter highlights Orlando staples from Lubbock and its Texan fare in this week’s episode.

Orlando’s is the oldest full service restaurant in Lubbock with a rich 58 year history. David Cea, who grew up on makeshift beds in the restaurant while his parents worked, is now one of the co-owners.

David’s father, Mike Cea, made his way west from Brooklyn, New York, on his Harley Davidson, eventually ending up in Lubbock to open the restaurant. He started working at age 11 and spent the next 20 years in the kitchen.

“Most of the recipes come from my great-great-grandparents who came over by boat in 1918, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Orlando. And so many of these recipes have been passed down through the years. Of course we tweaked them and added our own, but that’s where the basics come from,” Cea said.

These changes include green chiles and habaneros, which give Orlando dishes their unique flavor.

“It’s not traditional Italian food, it’s spicy Italian food, and that’s one of the reasons we’re so successful,” he said.

Cea jokes Orlando’s “overnight success” took 58 years to achieve new expansions like the Indiana location, partnership with Caprock Cafe and thousands of employees along the way, with the help of multiple partners like Loyd Turner.

“Natalie Maines served here. I have a picture of her with spaghetti. She waited, it was her first job,” Cea said.

David carries on his father’s legacy and countless memories from every walk of life.

“Those connections and relationships never go away, especially now, with social media, everything. They tell me all the time like hey, I went back and sat in the booth where I met my wife and where we sat in the booth where I proposed to my wife,” he said. “I hear stuff like that about this store all the time. So there is a lot of history in this store, a lot of history.”

Part of this story involves a clerk who used to wash dishes, Brian Hawkins. Hawkins went on to work for a television station in Lubbock, eventually becoming a videographer for Texas Country Reporter, where he has been for the past 30 years. Cea hooked up with Hawkins and met Bob and Kelli Phillips early last spring while they were filming for this week’s episode.

“Oh my god, you know they were so much fun. Of course we had lunch, we drank a few beers, then we had dinner, we drank wine. and I got to know Bob and his wife and his crew really well. It was nice to see Brian. I hadn’t seen Brian in years. It was a great time, it was a fun day, I really enjoyed it,” said Cea.

Texas Country Reporter shows Orlando’s Sunday mornings at 9am on KCBD Newschannel 11.

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