The east side of Fort Worth will soon be home to a new barbecue restaurant, thanks to a chef who imbues his food with a soul-food touch.
Called Smoke-A-Holics BBQ, it will open in July at 1417 Evans Ave., in a spot most recently occupied by a bakery and cake shop. The 1,000-square-foot restaurant will be cozy, seating a dozen people inside and a dozen on a patio area outside.
The restaurant will be the first brick-and-mortar venture for owner Derrick Walker, a Fort Worth native who got started in the barbecue business in 2006, catering special events and hosting pop-ups.
Last year, he purchased a food truck from the owners of Panther City BBQ and started parking on weekends on South Hulen Street, where he quickly developed a following.
"After I got the food truck, it blew up," Walker says. "At the same time, there was a paradigm shift toward barbecue. It really took off in Fort Worth. I’ve fought off investors. I wanted to open my own place, my own way."
Walker's take on barbecue is refreshingly different from others. In addition to staples such as brisket, sausage, chicken, and spare ribs, he'll offer several items with a soul food twist, including smoked ox tails with cheese grits and smoked and smothered chopped steak.
Side dishes will include collard greens, candied yams, and hot water cornbread.
Some items will be available on his regular menu; others will as a special on Sundays only. His hours will be 11 am to 7 pm Thursday-Sunday.
He'll also offer most of the items available on his food truck, including traditional barbecue sandwiches, brisket nachos, and a signature dish called the Big Macc, consisting of a pile of smoked mac & cheese topped with chopped brisket, green onions, sausage, and barbecue sauce.
"If I had to coin a phrase for my food, I'd call it 'Tex soul food'," he says. "There's a lot of Texas in it, a lot of soul food, and a lot of me."
Meats will be smoked in a 1,000-gallon offset smoker, over a mix of pecan and mesquite.
Walker has spent the majority of his life working in the food industry. For 18 years, he worked for the Baylor Health Care System in Fort Worth as an executive chef and food service director.
He learned how to barbecue from his grandfather. "Ten years old, I was outside, learning how to season meat from my grandad," he says. "We had lands in east Texas, and we were always having big family get-togethers out there, big cookouts. That's where I learned everything."
The restaurant will be located about five minutes from where Walker grew up.
"I definitely feel like I’ve come full circle," he says. "To be opening a place right around the corner from where I grew up – that's something special to me."