We have done without its unique taste for well over a year, but now, the popular Joe Cotten's BBQ is back; at least, in a limited way.
It was March of last year when the popular eatery went up in flames near Robstown. They are now open in a new location, and are doing things a bit differently.
The new Joe Cotten's is preparing "to-go" orders and catering only. It was last Wednesday that, without any fan fair, they opened their doors to their barbecue-hungry public, ushering in the next generation of the Joe Cotten family.
There were lots of smiles and laughter. Customers were happy because the big sign outside said it all: Joe Cotten's is back.
On the inside, business is brisk and the briskets are hot. They have been since the doors opened a little less than a week ago. But don't go to the new Cotten's expecting all the old decorations, red-checkered table cloths and country music playing. What you can expect is the same barbecue cooked by the same folks, like Mario Ybarra, who's been making it for more than 60 years.
The operation will be under the direction of Joe Cotten's grandsons, who started out in the business as wait-staff. Now they continue the tradition, and the demand for the tradition has been great.
"We started out catering," Michael Cotten said, "and we've had a lot of success."
It was back on March 2 last year when 64 years of memories went up in flames at the old location on Highway 77, just outside Robstown. A fire quickly spread through the barbecue restaurant during dinner, forcing people to run for safety as it burned to the ground.
The owners said they plan to eventually expand their take out and catering business to a full restaurant. Where and when? They still don't know, but when they do, we'll let you know.
The new Joe Cotten's is located at 15013 NW Boulevard, and their phone number is 361-933-0143.
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