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Advertisement for Austin’s Big 4 Restaurants

Gordon Wilkison

Silent | c. 1960s

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  •  El Charo Restaurant  
  •  El Matamoros Restaurant 
  •  All the Mexican Food you can eat.  
  •  El Toro Restaurant. 
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An advertising truck for the Big 4 Restaurants is filmed driving through the streets of Austin. The eateries being promoted are El Charro (at 10th and Red River), El Matamoros (504 E. Ave.), and El Toro (1601 Guadalupe). All-you-can-eat Mexican food for $1.25! The fourth restaurant for which no advertisement is shown was Monroe's. The Big 4 Restaurants were owned by Monroe Lopez, Austin’s first Mexican millionaire. Lopez is credited with bringing many restaurant firsts to Austin, including: air-conditioned restaurants, takeout and delivery services, the all-you-can-eat Tex-Mex dinner, and the crispy taco. In addition to his thriving restaurant businesses, Lopez owned Austin radio station KAZZ, which Billboard Magazine credits as the first station in the United States to regularly program rock and roll music.
Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
A particularly notable moment in his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.