BY BUD KENNEDY
JANUARY 02, 2018 09:21 AM
UPDATED JANUARY 02, 2018 09:23 AM
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.
“The spices, the sauce, the wood — it’s all staying the same,” said Jason George, the pitmaster for years and now the leader as Angelo’s nears its 60th anniversary.
“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.