The first Elite Cafe opened in downtown Waco in 1919. Pursuing their American Dream, the Colias brothers emigrated from Sparta, Greece, and acquired The Elite Cafe in 1920 from the original owners.
As Waco grew, the brothers opened a second location in 1941 on what is now one of the most famous traffic circles in Texas. Before the development of IH-35, The Circle was designed to handle converging traffic from many directions, including Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. There have been several attempts to close The Circle, but local Circle enthusiasts have successfully fought to preserve this historical highway element.
Always an innovator, The Elite was the first restaurant in Waco to use refrigeration in 1923 and air conditioning in 1941. Even our outdoor sign, complete with animated moving lights, was on the cutting edge for the time. Inviting to all, whether local banker or long-haul truck driver, it is no wonder The Elite gained the slogan, "Where the elite meet to eat," providing VIP treatment to any customer.
In the late '50s, a visitor from Fort Hood in Killeen, Private Elvis Presley; dined at The Elite frequently. He more than likely ate his favorite meals of fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches or hard-fried eggs with burnt bacon. While Elite's downtown location closed in the '60s due to a slow decline in downtown business, The Circle location thrived.
In 1985 after 65 years in the business, the Colias family sold the restaurant to Texas restaurateur David Tinsley, who refurbished The Elite with a '50s feel marked by the popular baby blue 1956 Cadillac that was in front. In 2003 the fourth and present owners, Lynn and Creed Ford III, completely remodeled The Elite to the feel of it's earliest days. With the changes came a new name: Elite Circle Grille.
These walls cannot share the memories or replay the conversations that have become part of this grand roadside grill's history. So we invite you to explore the past by visiting our Elvis and Waco rooms and browse the historic memorabilia on the walls. As always, enjoy a taste of the tradition, delicious food and comfortable atmosphere we're known for. We hope to share them all with you for many years to come.