Eats Beat

A giant barbecue restaurant near Mansfield closes to make way for chicken-fried steak

Smokey Mae’s was built as a Hill Country-style barbecue restaurant.
Smokey Mae’s was built as a Hill Country-style barbecue restaurant.

Overbuilt and underthought, Smokey Mae’s Pit BBQ closed last week for the second and final time.

“Dear friends, after sincere thought and consideration, we’ve decided to close Smokey MAE’s BBQ effective today,” the restaurant Facebook page announced Thursday with a photo of the familiar business sign: “Sorry — we’re CLOSED.”

The first time Smokey Mae’s closed, in May 2017, it had only been open for a few tumultuous days. Owner AngMar Retail mismanaged the opening and had to close it down and reorganize.

AngMar had promoted Smokey Mae’s like one of the company’s Fat Daddy’s bars, with celebrity guests, drink specials and radio station broadcasts.

But you can’t open a slow-smoked barbecue restaurant the way you open a beer joint. The crowds overwhelmed the new staff and the sprawling, Hill Country-style restaurant on a farm road between Rendon and Mansfield.

Smokey Mae’s reopened but never lived up to the bombast.

AngMar, also a retail developer and firearms dealer, closed it not long after closing a Fat Daddy’s in north Fort Worth and selling a Burleson golf club.

Dixie House, not related to the former Dallas restaurant by the same name, is a Fort Worth-based family restaurant company serving chicken-fried steak, plate lunches, cakes and pies.

Open since 1983, it has three current locations in Fort Worth and one in Saginaw.

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Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 15 Texas Legislature sessions. Since 1985, he has also written more than 2,000 “Eats Beat” columns about Texas dining, restaurants and food.