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Early bird gets the brisket at new BBQ joint

Early bird gets the brisket at new BBQ joint

Early bird gets the brisket at new BBQ joint
June 29
19:15 2014

Joshua Knopp / Senior Staff Writer

The co-owners and pit masters at newly opened Bet the House Barbeque on Elm Street said they’ll probably have barbeque until 2 p.m. on a given day. But if a customer wants to make sure they still have everything, they’d better come by 12:30.

UNT alums Shawn Eagle and Cody Smithers’ new barbeque restaurant has an operating mechanic unique in Denton —  they only stay open as long as they have food.

“You can only cook so much at a time,” Eagle said.

Eagle and Smithers met in college waiting tables together at the now-defunct Good Eats off of Loop 288. Eagle would graduate with a kinesiology degree in 2006, but Smithers transferred to Florida State University after being deployed by the Coast Guard. He graduated from there with a business degree and has a master’s in business from Texas Christian University.

Passionate about cooking, the duo started entering barbeque competitions when a smoker was installed in Smithers’ back yard.

“The first one was like a good-time fun thing,” Smithers said. “But then, we wanted to win.”

As they cooked more and more barbeque, they began selling it at events and to friends, then to friends of friends until, finally, they needed a formal place of business. Eagle said, over the past year, they would have orders of four briskets become six and orders of six racks of ribs become 10.

They started a Kickstarter fund in May with a goal of $5,000 for a place of business, a mark they met in just three weeks. They opened June 14 and have been completely swamped by their business ever since. Neither has quit their day jobs — Eagle is a special education teacher and Smithers is a business analyst for the Dallas Morning News — and Eagle said they will need to find a full-time employee for the school year.

Though the restaurant is only open a maximum of nine hours a day, the cooking process keeps the location busy for 24 hours. Eagle said brisket takes between 12 and 13 hours to cook. It goes into the smoker at 8 p.m. and then one of them returns to the store to check it at midnight. There is a second check at 3 a.m., at which point the next day’s ribs go into the smoker. At 6 a.m. the sausage goes in, and then at 8 or 9 a.m. one goes in to prepare for opening.

Because of this schedule, the pit masters say they haven’t had many full night’s rests since the store opened.

“This has tied up every ounce that we had,” Eagle said.

Eagle and Smithers are both passionate about feeding people, and said the reward is worth the long hours. Customers tend to agree. After only three weeks in existence, the restaurant has three five-star reviews on Yelp, and it left blog Wedentondoit.com raving. Customers have asked Eagle and Smithers about catering opportunities in the store.

In the restaurant, Grant and Emily Wakefield were blown away.

“You know it’s good brisket,” Grant Wakefield said. “This is moist all the way through. That’s a good sign of  a cook who knows how to cook it.”

Bet the House is located at 508 S Elm Street and opens 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, though they close whenever they run out of meat. This has often been in the mid-afternoon, but they have closed before 1 p.m. on occasion.

“This is probably the best barbeque I’ve had in the Denton area,” Emily Wakefield agreed.

Featured Photo: Shawn Eagle, co-owner and pit master of Bet the House Barbeque, shows off the store’s backyard smoker. Photo by Joshua Knopp – Senior Staff Writer

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