Califonia Bountiful

California: Where the beef is

Meet John Harris, a man whose name is synonymous with great steaks and success.

Looking for mouthwatering beef that's the best in the West? The answer is straight ahead, but first, what do a famous steak house, a roadside icon and a big gathering of cattle along Interstate 5 have in common? Plenty! They're all tied in to a man whose name is synonymous with great steaks and success--meet John Harris.

When you first meet California's baron of beef, he's not what you would expect--for one of the state's most successful businessmen, he's a pretty down-to-earth guy.

"It's sort of like the line that I'm humble but I have a lot to be humble about," Harris said. "I don't view myself as that much of a star, but I'm trying to muddle along, do a good job with what I'm doing and keep things moving and hopefully at the end of the day feel like I have accomplished something."

John is the driving force behind Harris Ranch, a place you absolutely can't miss along I-5 in Fresno County. The Harrises have a 90-year history of farming in California. Jack Harris brought the family to the San Joaquin Valley, and even when he was a kid, John knew he would follow in his father's footsteps. John quickly fell in love with animals and the cowboy life, a passion that continues today. He runs seven successful companies, including raising 100,000 cattle, all cared for by cowboys who really know their stuff. At his picture-perfect ranch along the Kings River, he raises racehorses that have continually found their way to the winner's circle. John also grows a cornucopia of produce and nuts and he's been a pioneer in marketing, shipping 10 million pounds of beef to market each month. It heads to places like Albertson's and Safeway and to steakhouses, including right at the Harris Ranch Inn and restaurant, a fun, family destination off of I-5.

Harris Ranch is also the sole beef supplier for Cattlemen's restaurant and it's been their main attraction ever since it opened nearly 40 years ago. Longtime ranchers Pete Gillham Senior and his son Pete Jr. had a simple philosophy when they started--serve ample portions of the best cuts of meat, prepare them simply and with country hospitality. It's a winning formula, to say the least. There are now 10 Cattlemen's restaurants in the West, including in Rocklin in Placer County, where hundreds of people come in every night for a truly awesome steak.

This success story and the rising popularity of beef make for a bright future for Cattlemen's and a man who avoids the limelight, but who knows a thing or two about steak, success and satisfaction.

"I think you just have to reflect how fortunate and lucky you are and be thankful for all of the blessings that you have," Harris said.

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