It was 1952 and a young enlistee was on weekend leave from the Air Force base in Fort Worth when he spotted a big man wearing cowboy boots standing in the middle of a construction site’s freshly hardened foundation. A quick “holler” earned the soldier an offer of part-time work, and eventually led to a lifelong career in the restaurant business.

The booted man was Jimmy Underwood, who owned and ran cafeterias and down-home eateries all over the state for decades. Underwood recognized the young man’s responsible and enterprising nature and took him under his wing, teaching him the virtues of “real” Texas barbecue. The apprentice, Raymond Erwin, would end up overseeing the opening, management and sale of numerous Underwood restaurants. Years later, he took on his own popular neighborhood establishment, Raymond’s Bar-B-Q, known for its slogan — “Smoked All Night For a Taste Just Right.”

The outgoing Erwin is known on sight by most of his loyal customers, and enjoys hosting community meetings, catering numerous corporate events and helping people “plan parties.” He’s served everyone from the area Kiwanis to guests at the LBJ ranch in Austin. In addition to his authentic barbecue and baked beans, Raymond’s offers other meats and an unusually large selection of country-style vegetables, salads and desserts — all for a very modest price including 85-cent drinks. The cafeteria atmosphere is comfortable and pleasant: western art and trailing ivy pepper a pristine dining room (smoke is washed from the walls and floors daily).

Erwin says that he’s “fortunate to have a good reputation, make a fair living and do what he can for the community.” He is dedicated to consistency with his food, and credits an experienced and loyal staff for continued success.

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