Chad Wilcox & Bryce Boushka
If you have ever been to Fort Worth, Texas, you would have a great understanding and taste of this historical Texas community. The community not only supports Texas Christian University, but the city as whole represents the true definition of an extended family. With a moderate, old-fashioned, and western atmosphere, Fort Worth is the perfect example of southern hospitality. A cowboy like environment located in the 16th biggest city in the United States is something you do not come across every day in the twenty-first century. The well-known restaurant, Angelo’s BBQ, is a cultural map that will appeal to all of you as soon as you walk in. Angelo’s is a local Texas BBQ that has been around for almost sixty years and it is filled with regular customers who have been going there for years. Everything you see, smell, and hear inside of Angelo’s represents rich family traditions and the close community of Fort Worth, Texas. Expect a wonderful Texas aroma, a warm “how y’all doin” greeting, and friendly locals with a happy eye that makes you feel like you are welcomed whether you are a cowboy or a surfer.
Often, when people think of Texas, they think of cowboys, barbecue, and hunting. The History of cowboys goes all the back to when America did not have its independence yet. The website “History” states, “The cowboy of myth and reality had his beginnings in Texas.” The lifestyle filled with fresh air, joy, and independence seems to be encapsulated at this local hangout, Angelo’s BBQ. Texas also has a rich history in preparing their food in a specific way: barbecuing. This style of cooking goes back hundreds of years to when Indians settled in Texas. On the website southernfoodway.org, Robb Walsh explains, “Southern barbecue is a proud thoroughbred whose bloodlines are easily traced. Texas barbecue is a feisty mutt with a whole lot of crazy relatives” (Walsh). Basically, barbecuing food has been a tradition for Texans for longer than American history itself. Along with cowboys and barbecue, hunting is another huge aspect of a typical Texan’s lifestyle. The open land filled with hundreds of animals to hunt, makes Texas one of the most popular states for hunting. As a Californian I am not a huge hunter; however my friend Bryce, a local Texan, is an avid hunter who enjoys searching for “big game.” Texas is a state that still represents its heritage and traditions that go back hundreds of years and it is very present in Angelo’s BBQ.
As curious college students, my partner and I decided to take a trip down to White Settlement road and try out this famous barbecue spot. As soon as we turned down the street, we immediately noticed Angelo’s BBQ because of its old fashioned style. Angelo’s did not want to keep up with the typical fashion trends. Instead it kept the same original barn style look. The barn-like restaurant has two huge barbecue pits right next to the entrance, which you can smell from down the road as it lures you in, truly making it difficult for customers to deny the world famous barbecue joint. When we opened the doors we expected to be greeted by a host or hostess, but that was not the case. We turned the corner and there it was, a bear bigger than me standing on his two legs wearing an Angelo’s BBQ apron. But don’t worry, this bear was not alive. It was actually part of the collection of trophies that were mounted on the walls from Angelo and his family’s hunting adventures. We were then greeted by employees, customers, the manager, and whoever else was in the restaurant. A warm welcoming followed by a very interesting interview, could not end without us trying some good ole’ Texas Barbecue. Angelo’s serves very affordable meals that are known to satisfy anyone who has the pleasure of going into the historical restaurant. There is nothing better than going to a local restaurant where complete strangers are welcomed by not only the employees, but also the everyday customers. However, Angelo’s did not start-off as this huge barbecue joint known throughout the world.
Angelo’s BBQ has been around for nearly sixty years, but it wasn’t always the big hit that it is today. It opened in 1958 as a little dive-in bar with only “four dining tables, a stand-up table and an ordering counter” (Angelo’s BBQ). Angelo, the original owner, worked alongside his wife, brother, and son. This family run business grew as time went on and became a big hit in the Fort Worth community. For the past 60 years, Angelo’s has stayed in the same location and basically still has the same menu. This Texas barbecue is made in a special way that attracts customers all over the world. Lisa, the manager, explained to us that they use a regular pit with shelves instead of using a rotating pit like most restaurants. She later pointed out they have the same style pits as the original ones and continue to use hickory, which gives the barbecue a unique flavor aroma. This food is such a big hit in Fort Worth because Lisa, the manager, states, “We maintain a high standard on our food.” This high quality food has attracted celebrities such as Denzel Washington, Bobby Knight, Joe Montana, Bill Paxton, Mory Amsterdam, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, etc. I assume Angelo had goals to expand his local restaurant to customers from all over Texas, but might have been surprised to become a celebrity stomping ground as a favorite eatery. This expansion, however, has never taken away from the original food, culture, and environment that Angelo’s BBQ has always provided for its customers.
As Angelo’s BBQ progressed into a world renowned restaurant, they were still able to maintain a local feel through its original customers. As first time customers, Bryce and I immediately noticed the close bond between employees and customers, who quite frankly seemed as if they grew up with each other. We immediately felt welcomed when we walked in the doors; it was the perfect definition of southern hospitality. One of the customers we talked to called the employees at Angelo’s her “second family.” It was obvious that she’s not only a local in Fort Worth, Texas, but also at Angelo’s Barbecue. Mike, a customer of Angelo’s, explains on Yelp, “We have been going to Angelo’s for 25 years, the open barn-style eatery has some of the best barbecue that Fort Worth can offer” (Mike). These two regular customers really allow an outsider to get a feel for the loyalty and respect that is shared between the customers and employees. What better way is there to describe a local business than the close bond between the community and the employees. Relationships have a big role in a local community, but it is also important to understand a bit of history when you are visiting a business that has been around for quite some time.
If you ever visit Angelo’s BBQ, the moment you walk through the doors the first thing that will catch your eye is the vast amount of trophy mounts on the walls. These trophies vary widely: bears, elk, whitetail, pronghorn, longhorn, largemouth bass, water buffalo, moose, alligator, etc. Everywhere you look there is some type of trophy on the wall that was hunted by either Angelo or his family. This allows the new customers to get a feel for the history of hunting in Texas. One customer who traveled all the way from Maryland describes the unique design of the old fashioned, Texas restaurant. She explains how she “loved the organic, uniqueness, of the interior from the old signs and furniture to the mounted animals on the wall” (Deb). It is obvious that Angelo wants to show his customers that he is a local Texan who respects the Western culture and values, which he incorporates into his restaurant. Allowing the customer to experience the history of Texas is a major aspect of Angelo’s BBQ. Hunting is a lifestyle in Texas, so when a kid from California walks into Angelo’s, he suddenly notices he has stepped into a time machine that has taken him back to the roots of Texas history. The interior design makes for an intriguing atmosphere to an outsider, but the surrounding community expects a lot more from its “local” eatery.
A local business is usually known for helping out the town in different ways through events, fund raising, and general charity. Angelo’s BBQ is the perfect example of a business that is active in the community by helping out with various events. The manager of Angelo’s explained that each year they try to sponsor the Miss Texas Pageant, by catering their world famous barbecue. This not only helps promote their restaurant, but also shows that they are active throughout the community and are willing to help out their neighbors along with the children involved in the pageant. Angelo’s wife also helped a lot with Red Hat, which in turn sponsors a charity every year of their choice. Their involvement in community service indicates they are willing to give a helping hand and make generous sacrifices as a family. Another way they involve themselves in the community is through Casselberry High School. Lisa explained to us, “Angelo always tried to help sponsor Casselberry… some of their ball teams” (Lisa). Each year they attempt to sponsor various teams by supporting the players and coaches with their famous barbecue. It is nice to eat at a restaurant and help out the owner when you know it is a two way street, as the owner and his family are also giving back to the community to create a close, strong bonded town like Fort Worth.
Texas, a state rich in western history, allows for locals and guests to experience firsthand, the southwestern culture and hospitality. Overall, Angelo’s BBQ is like taking a time machine back into the 1800s. Historical monuments are woven into this cowboy cultured restaurant, blessing the customer with a sampling of Texas education while embracing you with good ole fashioned hickory barbeque. The southern hospitality, historical background, and community support allows Angelo’s BBQ to prosper as a “local” restaurant. So next time you are in the mood for a local family hangout with great BBQ, “y’ all ought” to stop by Angelo’s, ask for extra napkins, and join the locals for an amazing culinary experience.