historic bbq joint prepares to shutter
Iconic Fort Bend barbecue restaurant will soon shutter after 50-year run
A historic Houston-area barbecue joint will soon extinguish its smokers. Richmond staple The Swinging Door will close in the next few weeks, owner Steve Onstad announced via Facebook.
“We have been blessed to have been of service to this area. However, this old BBQ guy has decided to move on to another chapter in life, that being said Swinging Door is closing its doors,” Onstad wrote.
Unlike most other barbecue restaurants, the Swinging Door uses pecan wood, rather than post oak, to smoke its meats, giving them a distinct flavor. Those meats, paired with the homemade-style sides and desserts, have been luring Houstonians and Fort Bend County residents to the restaurant since 1973.
Back then, the restaurant’s location on FM 359 felt so far away from central Houston that a nearby field served as a landing pad for helicopters for energy company executives and Bum Philipps invited Luv Ya Blue-era Houston Oilers players there for dinner, the Houston Chroniclereported in 2016. (Jewish Houstonians of a certain age may remember seeing it pass by on their way to summer camp at the Jewish Community Center’s shuttered Gordon Campsite, but I digress.)
Now, bustling Richmond neighborhoods like Pecan Grove and Grand River surround the property, providing it with an enthusiastic customer base.
After a 2015 visit, Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn praised the restaurant’s ribs, “excellent sides,” and blackberry cobbler. “With so many good options for barbecue popping up in Houston, you don’t have to drive out this far, but there’s just enough good stuff on the menu to make it worth the trip,” he concluded.
The restaurant’s Fort Bend County neighbors share a similar sentiment. The Facebook post announcing the closure has swelled to hundreds of comments that range from people who have been eating there for almost the entirety of its run to newer arrivals who had their first taste of Texas barbecue from its pecan-fueled pits. It will undoubtedly be missed by many.
“Being a huge part Fort Bend County the past 50 years I want to give a big THANK YOU to all of our wonderful customers, customers that became friends, friends that became family and especially all my employees throughout the years that created the backbone of this establishment,” Onstad added. “It has been a honor to be a part of the last 50 years of memories.”