The original 1946 Sammie’s Bar-B-Q, demolished in 1987, was an East Belknap Street drive-in barbecue-and-beer restaurant with car hops. Richard Greer fortworthyesterday.com
The original 1946 Sammie’s Bar-B-Q, demolished in 1987, was an East Belknap Street drive-in barbecue-and-beer restaurant with car hops. Richard Greer fortworthyesterday.com

Eats Beat

Sammie’s Bar-B-Q, 71-year Fort Worth landmark, to reopen under Smoke Pit owner

By Bud Kennedy

bud@star-telegram.com

(This story has been updated.)

July 16, 2017 10:25 PM

UPDATED July 19, 2017 06:11 PM

FORT WORTH

Sammie’s Bar-B-Q, a 1946 throwback celebrated in Fort Worth writer Dan Jenkins’ novels, has been sold and will reopen under Smoke Pit owner Sam Gibbins, he confirmed Wednesday.

Sammie’s closed Sunday as talk of a sale swirled. Owner Bobby Platt confirmed the sale Wednesday, and Gibbins said he will reopen after repairs with the same recipes and staff.

Gibbins, owner of the 55-year-old Smoke Pit since 2001, now has two East Belknap Street barbecue restaurants a mile apart. He said the Smoke Pit will continue unchanged under co-owner Annette Hinkle.

“Both these places have been here forever,” Gibbins said: “I just want to go in and fix up Sammie’s, do the best job we can and have some fun with it.”

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Fort Worth chefs Grady Spears of Horseshoe Hill Cafe and Michael Thomson of Michaels Cuisine have agreed to cook specials once a month as guest chefs, he said.

“We’re going to have everything cooked fresh every day and some surprises,” Gibbins said/

The current Sammie’s had opened in 1987, but it replaced a 1946 drive-in with car hops, nickel beers and reputedly the best pork ribs in Fort Worth.

Before Angelo’s opened in 1958, Sammie’s was the famous local beer-and-barbecue hangout for downtown lawyers, Riverside-area patrons and commuters at a time when East Belknap Street carried traffic to Denton and northwest Dallas.

Sammie Norwood, owner of a nearby dance hall, and Charles “Pop” Ross opened the restaurant in 1946 and sold it in the 1970s to Platt and the late Sam Allen, according to Star-Telegram archives.

In Jenkins’ 1974 golf novel, “Dead Solid Perfect,” two characters argue over “whether Angelo’s or Sammie’s had the best barbecued ribs.” In Jenkins’ 2014 novel “You Gotta Play Hurt,” Sammie’s was the site of a coaches dinner for mythical TCU Horned Frogs football coach T.J. Lambert.

When the original building closed for demolition in 1987, owners celebrated with “throwback” 1946 prices of 50 cents for a sliced beef sandwich and $2.75 for a pork rib plate.

In particular, Sammie’s was known for bracelet-size, thick-breaded onion rings; for its distinctive smoked bologna; and for a thin, vinegary sauce meant to complement but not overpower its brisket’s smoky flavor.

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jchristopher@star-telegram.com

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, @EatsBeat. His column appears Wednesdays in Life & Arts and Fridays in DFW.com.