Pappa Charlies Barbeque in EaDo has ceased daily operations, pitmaster-owner Wesley Jurena tells CultureMap. The restaurant remains available for catering and special events.
“I’m not going to blame it all on Harvey,” Jurena says, but the storm’s timing made the financial disruption particularly difficult to bear. “End of the month, rent was due, employees had to be paid...I don’t feel like business has picked up since then.”
The restaurant got a boost during the World Series, as it did during other large events like the Final Four and the Super Bowl, but business quickly tapered off after that.
“When the big events were going on, business was boom town,” Jurena says. “When they weren’t going on, we had a steady stream of customers, but the numbers don’t justify me staying in that location.”
The restaurant opened two years ago after a successful run operating as a food truck in Montrose. Jurena’s 10-year stint in the U.S. Army, including seven with the First Ranger Battalion, and a track record of success on the barbecue competition circuit drew diners to sample his product.
Pappa Charlies earned some acclaim for its experiments like masala-spiced lamb and smoked meatloaf. A message board commenter dubbed the dishes “Goofycue;” instead of letting the criticism disrupt his work, Jurena embraced the label and continued to tinker.
While the EaDo location hasn’t proved viable, Jurena says he still believes in his product. He’s in negotiations for a new location in Northwest Houston that could allow Pappa Charlies to rise again. If it doesn’t work out, he’s still sanguine about his experience in the restaurant business.
“We made a little bit of a splash on the scene,” Jurena says. “If we don’t continue, I hope we helped raise the bar and push Houston barbecue into the national spotlight. Hopefully we can stay involved in the community. If not, it was a great run, and I appreciate everyone’s support.”