The timeless Angelo’s Barbecue isJason George’s place now, and he’s making a promise.
“I’m not planning on changing anything,” said George, 39, the third-generation pitmaster and grandson of founder Angelo George.
Jason George is now in charge after the unexpected death Dec. 21 of father Skeet George, 67.
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“We’ll change with the times. But we’re not changing what built our business.”
Inheriting a restaurant legacy isn’t easy. Skeet George did a great job of building and growing Angelo’s success for 20 years after Angelo George’s death in 1997.
Oh, sure — Angelo’s has changed in tiny ways since St. Patrick’s Day 1958, when the Georges opened a beer bar with four tables in an an industrial area on White Settlement Road near downtown.
The first few days, it served nothing but hard-boiled eggs. When the brisket was ready, Angelo’s gained a reputation for sandwiches and some of the city’s coldest Budweiser in large, frosty mugs.
Any ensuing changes have been glacially slow:
▪ 1973: Pork ribs joined the original brisket, along with dinner platters of both.
▪ 1974: The first table service was offered, now available in the front dining room after 3 p.m.
▪ 1978: The sawdust floor was swept clean.
▪ 1992: In what might be the biggest change of all, the restaurant was air-conditioned for the first time.
▪ 1992: Light beer was added to the original choices of Budweiser and Michelob Dark.
▪ 1994: Smoked chicken was added.
▪ 2008: For the first time, diners could pay with a credit card and serve their own fountain drinks.
▪ 2017:Vegetables, macaroni-and-cheese and stuffed baked potatoes were added to the original sides of ranch beans, slaw and potato salad.
In a 2008 interview, Skeet George said, “People come in all the time and say, ‘My god, I haven’t been here in 30 years, and this place hasn’t changed.’ ”
Jason George oversaw last year’s addition of vegetables and recently added another new item at his customers’ request: brisket or pulled-pork tacos.
“I don’t know how tacos became the new thing for barbecue, but I think food trucks had a lot to do with it,” he said.
(Tacos’ popularity had a lot to do with it.)
“All we had to do was order tortillas and jalapeños,” he said.
They’re a popular seller, although the stuffed baked potatoes and the mac-and-cheese are “blowing everything else out of the water,” he said.
He’s old enough to have crawled around on the sawdust floor. But not old enough to remember.
The George family was already going through a difficult time from the extended Panther Island bridge construction on White Settlement Road blocking the main thoroughfare from downtown. Diners must use North Henderson Street or take West Seventh Street to Carroll Street.
“Once it’s completed, it’ll bring us a whole new world of customers,” Jason George said.
Angelo’s is open regular hours. Go by and see the Georges before the Stock Show crowds hit.
“We’re back open full swing,” he said.
Angelo’s, 2533 White Settlement Road, is open for lunch and dinner weekdays and Saturdays, with table service after 3 p.m.; 817-332-0357, angelosbbq.com.
Grief and a double loss at North Main BBQ
Northeast Tarant County also lost a legendary pitmaster in Hubert Green of North Main BBQ, gone Dec. 17 at 90.
Green and his son, Ray, were in the trucking business in Euless in 1981 when they started smoking barbecue for friends. They served it out of their offices Fridays at lunch, and patrons stood around outside with paper plates of brisket and ribs under the “Green’s Trucking” sign.
The Greens eventually expanded into a space next door and opened a weekend all-you-can-eat barbecue buffet that gained fame among patrons going to the old Texas Stadium.
Green’s wife, Shari McKay Green, 68, died unexpectedly that same day before Hubert Green, the McKay family wrote on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
North Main BBQ remains open for lunch and dinner Fridays and Saturdays plus lunch Sundays. Business owners not only need comfort but also customers; 406 N. Main St., Euless, 817-267-9101, facebook.com/bestribsintheworld.
Work up a hunger with restaurant history book
One of the most popular holiday gifts in local bookstores was a tasteful choice: “Lost Restaurants of Fort Worth.”
The 104-page quick-read by local author and occasional Star-Telegram contributor Celestina Blok tells the story of the city’s dining past, from the original White Elephant Saloon menu (mackerel, black bass, lobster and pickerel) to the rise of burger grills, Tex-Mex and country cafes.
I’m flattered that Blok included some of the work here for a Fort Worth Public Library video on local foodways and restaurant history.
The Carlson’s Drive-Inn “Bakon Burger” lives again in the book, along with the old east side location of the Italian Inn, Herb Massey’s Dinner Place and the original Old Swiss House.
It already helped settle a recent discussion about Jack Allen and the old Topsy’s Cafe, the 1950s diner that was moved from University Drive and became Salsa Limon Distrito on White Settlement Road.
The cover photos depict the much-missed Richelieu Grill, for a century serving the city’s best chili, and the old Colonial Cafeteria on Pennsylvania Avenue.
(Trivia item not mentioned: One of the Colonial workers, Maria De Leon Umland, went on to open today’s Benito’s.)
Some retailers sold out of the book before the holidays. It’s available online: $21.99, Arcadia Publishing/The History Press, Charleston, S.C. (historypress.net)