"8 Days a Week"
...reads the sign outside Black's Barbecue in Lockhart. Norma and Edgar Black, co-owners of the oldest family-owned barbecue restaurant in Texas, say people are always asking where that eighth day comes from. "If you're here as much as we are, you find a few extra days in that time," Norma says with a laugh. "It's easier to remember when we're closed - Thanksgiving and Christmas - than when we're open."
Black's looks like you'd expect a barbecue restaurant to look. Framed photographs of local high school football teams and hunting trophies cover the walls. A photograph of former Texas Governor Ann Richards, back when she was still state treasurer, fills a spot on the wall, too.
This restaurant has been in the family since 1932. Norma remembers a time when women did not go inside most barbecue restaurants. At Black's, women went to a side window to order. Things have changed a lot since then, but the recipe for brisket is still the same. "It's simple," Edgar says. "You just need salt, pepper, the right wood and a few family secrets that I can't tell you."
"We didn't have a sauce when we first started," Edgar explains. "My wife, she makes it. We added it after a lot of people from the North came down. They'd ask for it." Norma's sauce is red-orange, hinting of lemon and a little cumin; "eight" days a week it simmers in an electric cooking pot not too far from the restaurant's cash register.
A Letter from the Black's
The year was 1931. Edgar Black, Jr., six years old and barefoot, rode his favorite horse "Bess" from Delhi, Texas to Lockhart, Texas. The Black family, on horseback and by wagon, drove their cattle and moved the family and their belongings from the hills of eastern Caldwell County to Lockhart. Edgar Black, Sr., born in 1898, took the family cattle and started the Barbecue Legend that is now, 80 years later, "Black's Barbecue."
Edgar, Sr. went on to develop Black's Barbecue and served as Judge of Caldwell County. Edgar, Jr., served his country in World War II in the Navy and graduated from Texas A&M (Class of 1947), as a distinguished student. He married Norma Jean Nolte and for over 60 years of his life has served six generations of customers the best barbecue and homemade family recipe sausage in the United States.
Edgar Black, Jr. and Norma Jean are without a doubt the Texas King and Queen of Texas Barbecue. Edgar, Jr. was the first barbecue proprietor in the United States to exclusively use the brisket cut of beef. The others soon copied Black's. No family in Texas has continuously owned and operated a major barbecue business longer than the Black's. Other barbecue joints in Texas have been bought and sold to other owners but the Black's own Black's Barbecue and will always own it.
Today, Black's Barbecue is Texas' oldest and best major barbecue restaurant continuously owned and operated by the same family. Four generations of Black's have made this possible with all generations currently involved in the operations of the restaurant. Unlike some other barbecue family businesses, we take pride in being a loving and close family. Edgar and Norma Jean have been married for over 60 years. Both of their sons, Kent (an attorney; Southern Methodist University - Class of 1974) and Terry (a CPA/CFP; University of Texas - Class of 1977), have been married for over 25 years and have provided their parents with six grand children.
Black's Barbecue was selected by United States President Lyndon Baines Johnson to represent Texas barbecue at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Black's Barbecue has been recognized by both the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives for their part in Texas History. The New York Times, Southern Living, Texas Monthly, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, The Food Network, Money Magazine, The Travel Channel and many others have all written about the Texas Legend - Black's Barbecue. Thank you for visiting Black's Barbecue and y'all come back soon!
The Black Family