On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Russell Roegels joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss the changes he's made at Roegels Barbecue in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The conversation begins with Roegels explaining the decision he and his wife Misty made five years ago to leave the Baker's Ribs franchise and begin cooking new recipes under the own name.
The move has been a successful one for the business. It ranks in Texas Monthly's list of the state's 50 best barbecue joints and ranks 85th on CultureMap's list of Houston's top 100 restaurants. Serving consistently excellent staples such as brisket and pork ribs helps explain the acclaim, but Roegels also discusses the various specials, such as pastrami and whole hog, that have made the restaurant a hit with smoked-meat aficionados.
Roegels has made a number of changes to his restaurant in response to the restrictions placed on restaurants. Tape Xes demonstrate where to stand six feet apart, and a plexiglass barrier separates customers from the restaurant's employees. On a more personal note, Roegels sends out emails on a near-daily basis to update customers on the restaurant. Sandler asks the pitmaster what inspired him to take to the keyboard.
"I was scared to death. That's why I sent the first one," Roegels says. "I was so scared that I was going to lose everything I had worked 20-something years for, and I was going to do anything I could to let people know we are still here, we are still serving barbecue, we're taking extra precautions to keep them safe, and to thank them for all their support over the years."
Prior to the interview, co-host Felice Sloan joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: restaurants selling grocery items to supplement their to-go business, H-E-B's initiative to sell prepared items from three Houston restaurants, Indigo chef Jonny Rhodes opening a grocery store, and Turkey Leg Hut expanding its dining room.
In the restaurants of the week segment, the hosts describe some of their recent takeout meals from Truth BBQ, Craft Pita, and Molina's.