If playing music in Texas requires having a fiddle in the band, then serving barbecue means serving the classic “Texas trinity” of beef brisket, pork ribs, and sausage (usually a mixture of beef and pork). Texas barbecue joints may serve an additional meat like pulled pork, but most local barbecue fans aren’t interested in saucy ‘cue from points beyond the Red River.
A veteran restaurateur hopes to change that all with Corky’s BBQ, a Memphis-based barbecue joint that recently arrived in the Houston area. The first of six local Corky’s locations opened in Katy a couple of weeks ago.
Franchisee Andria Cain tells CultureMap that her first experience with Corky’s came when her son received cancer treatment at St. Jude’s. All that barbecue may have been good luck, because he’s grown into a healthy adult. When her business partner Bruce Gingrich discussed the possibility of opening a pub that served barbecue, she remembered her trips to Memphis.
“Without even skipping a beat, I said if we were going to bring barbecue with bourbon and music, we needed to do Corky’s BBQ,” she says. “We approached Corky’s and this is what happened.”
The menu blends Memphis-style pulled pork and ribs with Texas-style brisket, chicken, and sausage — sourced from Prasek’s and Heartbrand Ranch. Corky’s uses two Southern Pride rotisserie smokers for its pork products, but sourced vertical cabinet smokers from Houston-area favorite Pitmaker for its Texas ‘cue. Sides, salads, and fried catfish round out the menu.
“We’re trying to compliment the Memphis as well as have some Texas,” director of operations Lance McMillan says “The ribs are definitely Memphis-style . . . I’ll challenge [our brisket] to anybody’s. I think 90 percent of our guests will like it.”
Corky’s also sets itself apart with service and convenience. Instead of waiting in line, the restaurant provides full service and a full bar with 20 beers and 50 bourbons. Those in more of a hurry may utilize the drive-thru. Live music everyday helps give the restaurant a lively atmosphere.
Cain helped bring Panera Bread to Houston; she and Gingrich want to grow Corky’s quickly. Plans call for additional locations in the East End, on Westheimer near the Sam Houston Tollroad, Cypress, and in The Woodlands. Whether Houstonians have a taste for Memphis-style barbecue remains to be seen, but they won't lack for opportunities to give it a try.
Corky's BBQ; 20455 Katy Fwy.; Sunday through Wednesday 11 am to 10 pm, Thursday 11 am to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 12 am.