Back When Preston Royal Village Was “Exotic” and Had Its Very Own Elephant

by Paula Bosse

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by Paula Bosse

Dallas had a restaurant like this?! Believe it or not, Safari — a popular steakhouse — was in a shopping area that hadn’t been finished at the time of this photo (probably around 1956). This was in the shopping center at Preston & Royal, in the very same location now occupied by Royal China (which, having been in Royal China fairly often, I can totally recognize in the photo of the restaurant’s interior). Someone put their whole heart and soul into that decor — from the elephant and, um, elephant wrangler (“mahout“?) out front, to the ornate wood carving and the somewhat … busy … murals inside. And the uniformed staff is pretty impressive, too. I could find almost no advertising for the place — perhaps they blew their advertising budget on elephants and murals. One of the stars of the restaurant was host Iqbal “Ike” Singh Sekhon, who left a few years later to run the fabulous La Tunisia. Royal China took over the space in 1974. Man, I wish I’d seen that elephant.

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From the cover of the menu.

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From the steak menu. Choose between the “Maharajah (Man’s) Size” and the “Maharanee (Ladies’) Size.” Or get the kebabs of skewered beef “deliciously seasoned with Safari Sauce — A Treat.”

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Ike Sekhon — who started working as the restaurant’s host while studying for his Master’s degree at SMU — an interesting man I’ll write more about later!

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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