In this 1980s photo, neighbors line up outside Barbec’s for the restaurant’s famous beer biscuits.
Photography Courtesy of Becky Brown
Amy Dyer was looking for the perfect spot to take her date for their first face-to-face meeting after connecting on Match. Barbec’s checked all the boxes.
“I thought breakfast was safe enough for a first-time meeting — no alcohol involved,” she says. “I wanted a casual atmosphere where we could drink coffee and get to know each other. We sat on the patio and knew we wouldn’t be rushed out.”
The date went so well, they married seven months later. The couple of 17 years rarely eats out, but every year, they go to Barbec’s to commemorate their first date anniversary.
This year, the couple will have to find a new place to celebrate. The East Dallas institution sustained approximately $175,000 in damage after a kitchen fire destroyed the restaurant in early October.
Firefighters had to force entry through the front and back doors to extinguish the blaze, which was put out in about an hour, Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans says. There was so much damage, the cause of the fire could not be determined.
Investigators estimate that the fire caused $125,000 in structural damage and an additional $50,000 worth of damage to its contents.
The restaurant remains temporarily closed, and it is unclear if it will reopen. Owners Mehdi Kalafchi and Abe Ghodsi could not be reached for comment.
Barry and Becky Brown opened Barbec’s in 1978.
Founders Barry and Becky Brown opened the eatery in 1978 on Garland Road in a building that was one of two freestanding Howard Johnson restaurants in Dallas. The newly married couple had worked in the restaurant industry in college and had visions of opening a hamburger joint.
Barbec’s did serve hamburgers, but it evolved into a home-cooking restaurant with comfort foods like chicken fried steak, meatloaf, catfish and shepherd’s pie. But it was best known for its beer biscuits that had crowds lined up outside the eatery every Saturday morning for a bite of the thick, doughy morsels.
The Browns used so many bags of biscuit mix, they won a Caribbean cruise courtesy of Sysco.
“We’d take a tray of biscuits, and we’d pass it out [to people in line] so they didn’t starve and go somewhere else,” Becky Brown says. “But you had to be careful not to fill them up.”
The famed biscuits attracted the likes of Paul Simon from Simon & Garfunkel, Edie Brickell from Edie Brickell & New Bohemians and actor August Schellenberg from “Free Willy.” But neighbors were the ones who kept coming back to the place that knew their name and their order.
“We knew all our clients,” Becky says. “If we couldn’t remember their name, we’d say, ‘It’s the guy who always eats such and such.’ We’d see people grow up, get married, have children and attend funerals.”
RECIPE: BEER BISCUITS
RESTAURANT OF ORIGIN: Barbec’s, 8949 Garland Road Temporarily closed
TIME TO PREPARE: 25 minutes
SERVING SIZE: 4
TOOLS & UTENSILS: Mixer, 8-inch X 8-inch square pan
3 cups flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
12 ounces room temperature beer
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients
Add beer to mix and stir until combined.
Let rest for 5 minutes.
Pour batter into pan.
Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Cut biscuits in squares and serve with cream gravy.
Compiled from the Dallas Morning News, copykat.com, allrecipes.com and a bit of trial and error by Advocate staff.
The Browns built a family at Barbec’s and took care of their own. When the beloved cook was sent to the hospital, the couple paid his hospital bills. If a customer couldn’t pay for the meal, the Browns said, “Pay it when you come back.”
Cheryl Grayson was a 22-year-old new mom when she started working at Barbec’s as a waitress in 1991. She had moved to Dallas alone but found a community among employees and customers at the restaurant. When she decided to start her own maid service, her connections at Barbec’s helped get it off the ground. She still has her first client, who was a regular at the restaurant.
“I looked up to Barry and Becky in a lot of ways,” Grayson says. “They encouraged us to do something that would better ourselves. They were a wonderful couple and good employers. Barbec’s wasn’t an icon because it was convenient, but because the owners put their heart and soul into it.”
Barry and Becky created the name Barbec’s by combining the first three letters of their first names. They owned the restaurant for 21 years before selling it to the current owners in 1999. By that point, Becky was raising their daughter and only working part time. Barry was ready to move on to other ventures.
They started other restaurants, but Becky says none had the same family feel as Barbec’s. The building may be destroyed, but Barbec’s lives on in the memories of its loyal customers.
“Barry and Becky created something that withstood the test of time,” Grayson says. “I’m hoping it can withstand the test of a terrible fire and be rebuilt.”
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