Texas is home to many classic rivalries. Longhorns vs. Aggies. Astros vs. Rangers. Rockets vs. Spurs.
For more than two decades, Houstonians have witnessed the bitter rivalry between two neighboring restaurants: Pappadeaux vs. Khyber. Pappadeaux, owned by Houston-based Pappas Restaurants, uses their signs to promote their specials. Meanwhile, their scrappy independent North Indian neighbors use their signs to poke fun at the posh eatery.
Mickey Kapoor, the owner/chief instigator at Khyber, told an interviewer in 2015 about how the battle started. In 1994, when Kapoor saw a sign from Pappadeaux advertising their blackened tuna, he made his sign read, “Accidents Happen.”
Over the years, the sign battles became the stuff of Houston legend. Kapoor relates a time when his neighbors changed their sign five times in one day:
Pappadeaux: Hiring today, 3 to 5
Khyber: My, you start them young!
Pappadeaux: Hiring waiters, hosts and bussers
Khyber: Planning to go into the restaurant business?
Pappadeaux: Hiring all positions
Khyber: Missionaries need not apply.
Pappadeaux: Hiring a few smiling faces
Khyber: Start the day with a smile and get it over with
Pappadeaux: Now interviewing servers
Khyber: Now serving users
While the Pappadeaux/Khyber sign battle has been going for more than 20 years with no end in sight, another battle between a national chain and a local upstart has sprung up in Lubbock.
This past May, The Pure Water Ice and Tea Company offered Texas Tech head football coach Kliff Kingsbury free drinks. The Wendy’s restaurant across the street offered the coach free food AND drinks.
When Pure Water posted a sign saying that the offer looked familiar, the sign-makers at Wendy’s responded with, “Something else that’s familiar is our never frozen, fresh beef.”
“You want beef, Wendy’s?” the Pure Water sign read later that day, “You got it.”
Some more selections from the exchange:
Pure Water: Burgers aren’t the only thing square at Wendy’s
Wendy’s: Everyone knows Wendy’s squares up. You ain’t bout that life
Wendy’s: Wendy’s parking only. Violators will be served Pure Water
Pure Water: Good thing our tea is stronger than your sign game!
Wendy’s: Anything you can brew, we can brew better
Pure Water: You better check yourself before you wreck yourself Wendy’s!
While the Wendy’s vs. Pure Water feud has yet to establish the intense history of Pappadeaux vs. Khyber, the level of creativity shown on both sides will likely boost traffic in both stores…or at least cause traffic jams as passers-by check out the latest round of barbs.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article said that Pappadeaux was owned by Landry’s.