BRINGING TEXAS STYLE TO THE GEM CITY TEXAS BEEF AND CATTLE COMPANY, 1101 W. 3rd street, Dayton, OHio

A hand built shed houses the smokers used in the preparation of all the meats served at Texas Beef and Cattle Company. All of the woods used in the process are sourced directly from Texas.

An unassuming shed lit up with strings of Christmas lights is one of the first things visitors see when they pull up to the Texas Beef and Cattle Company, located at 1101 W. 3rd Street. What they don't know, however, is that owner James Nuñez built the shed to house the two smokers used to prepare all the meats served in the restaurant. The meats are all smoked with hickory wood pieces straight from Texas itself. Nuñez makes the trek to Texas twice a year to source all the wood used in their smoking process.

Team member Tyler Norris helps serve a guest during the dinner service. The restaurant is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Originally started as a catering company in 1998, the company expanded into a storefront restaurant in late 2016. The restaurant is a co-op, allowing customers to become "members" of the restaurant and partial ownership of a small share as well. These members are pivotal to the success and growth of the restaurant, as their opinions are factored into many of the decisions that are made for the betterment of the business. "We really want to be able to include the community that has stake in this restaurant as much as we can, because it's their business that ultimately makes us successful," says Tyler Norris, a crew member at Texas Beef and Cattle Company.

The restaurant focuses on keeping their theme centered around the overall feel that Texas Barbecue provides. Much of their decor is based around the southern styles, ranging from animal skulls to re-purposed wood figures to state maps.

Much of the restaurant is decorated with fixture reminiscent of the South. There's a deer head mounted on one wall of the restaurant, with a animal skull not more than a few feet away. Many of the fixtures have also been re-purposed, such as barrels that also serve as table legs and water stands. There are Texas shaped cutouts on the walls, and though Nuñez still has additional plans to expand the decor for the restaurant, the decor thus far certainly does well with setting the scene.

Texas Beef and Cattle company focuses on being able to give a little piece of that Texas style barbecue back to the Dayton area, both in terms of food and the overall restaurant appearance. Nuñez is a Texas native who originally started the company as a catering business with that exact goal in mind. As the restaurant has expanded, so has their following.

A member of the kitchen staff removes some of the meats from the main smoker (left). The meats are smoked anywhere from a few hours, as is the case with their chicken and sausage options, to 20+ hours, as is the case with their brisket and ribs (right).

Patrons that also consider themselves well versed in the world of Texas style barbecue have come from as far away as Cleveland, OH and Lexington, KY for the sole purpose of visiting the restaurant. Many of them leave claiming that the food is as close to authentic as one could get in the Midwest, further substantiating the restaurant's claim that they have the "best mesquite smoked BBQ this side of the Sabine River."

The process that goes into smoking each meat for the restaurant is a careful one. Each of the kitchen staff puts the utmost care into preparing the meats for the smoking process, as is done throughout the aforementioned process itself. "It's a finicky process," says Tyler Norris, "but the end result is always worth the effort put into it." The meats tend to smoke anywhere from a few hours, as is usually the case with their chicken and sausage offerings, to over 20 hours, the case with their brisket and rib offerings.

As a result, the restaurant only has a limited menu during their lunch hours, but the big favorites (brisket, pulled chicken and pulled pork) are always available. But, the dinner waits don't seem to deter customers too much. Repeat customer Don McKenzie summarized, "it's always worth the wait. You can tell that time an effort went into producing the product, and, as someone who has lived in Texas before, you can't even tell the difference."

The restaurant truly lives by the 'good things come to those who wait' mantra, much preferring to put forth their best product in whatever time that it takes than rushing the process and putting forth something mediocre.

Smoked chicken wings and smoked chickens are two of the menu items offered. The wings are sold in increments of four, while the smoked chickens can be ordered as either a whole or a half portion.

As a result of the time consuming process that goes into the preparation of Texas Beef and Cattle Company's menu, the restaurant is only open Thursday through Sunday. When they first made the transition from catering company to storefront restaurant, their hours were limited, open only for dinner three nights a week and brunch one morning a week. However, in the classic tale of supply and demand, the demand for their food has increased tremendously since the storefront opened, leaving the restaurant with only one choice: supply, supply, supply.

In early 2017, Texas Beef and Cattle Company underwent another transition. With the traffic of the restaurant so heavy as it was and the constant inquiries into lunch hours, they ultimately decided to take that next step forward, adding lunch services Thursday through Sunday. Though, as mentioned previously, the menu is limited for lunch due to time constraints with the preparation of certain items, business is still booming just as much during their lunch hours as it is their dinner ones.

With such successful lunch and dinner services, it's no wonder that the restaurant is also open for brunch once a week. On Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the restaurant shifts gears, grinding out menu offerings from breakfast tacos (both meat and vegetarian) to plated entrees. Despite Sundays often being considered to be a relaxation day by many, that hasn't stopped locals from coming in in droves to get a little taste of what the restaurant has to offer and as a result, Texas Beef and Cattle Company sells out of their brunch selection nearly every time.

Brisket is ultimately the backbone of the restaurant and one of their most popular offerings. Each brisket is seasoned with a house rub individually and smoked with hickory wood for 20+ hours before being served to the public.

During each of their service times, Texas Beef and Cattle Company's main products are a little different, the most different of them all being their weekly brunch service. Every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the restaurant takes their time to prepare hundreds of breakfast tacos, ranging anywhere from vegetarian options with just egg and cheese to a more traditional breakfast taco including chorizo, egg, pico de gallo and potatoes. On top of that, they also serve traditional Mexican breakfast entrees, such as Huevos Rancheroes, and Nuñez insists the menu is always expanding.

When their focus shifts towards lunch, their menu offerings are still limited, but not nearly as tightly focused as their brunch. Their sandwiches are one of the biggest sellers during the lunch service, with patrons being able to choose from brisket, pulled chicken or pulled pork. All sandwiches can be topped with a house-made barbecue sauce and additional toppings (onions, pickles, pico de gallo, etc.) at no additional charge. The restaurant also offers a variety of sides during lunch, including but not limited to: mac & cheese, borracho beans, Spanish-style rice, potato salad and coleslaw.

Texas Beef and Cattle Company's dinner service menu includes all of their lunch items and then some more. Two of their most popular items, their pork ribs and their sausage (brought in from Texas), become available when the clock strikes 5 p.m., as do their beef ribs that resemble something closer to a dinosaur bone than one would expect. Although still available during lunch, platter meals including meat(s) and a side(s) become exponentially more popular, offering an option for those who might be interested in trying multiple meats and a variety of sides.

Owner James Nuñez looks on as employees prepare food for the dinner rush. In addition to the smoked meats, the restaurant offers a variety of sides ranging from coleslaw (left) to seafood chowder and chicken noodle soup (right).

But as employee Tyler Norris puts it, "no restaurant can be successful without a hardworking and dedicated staff, and we definitely strive to have that here." The restaurant employs around 15 people and unlike a traditional restaurant set up, the staff has a tendency to float around from position to position. While there are some employees who work primarily in the front of the house, focusing on serving the guests and dealing with customer service, and others that work back in the kitchen, focusing on preparation, the restaurant prefers to allow for growth and expansion of its employees.

"If someone wants to learn something new, James [Nuñez] does everything he can to help with that," Norris adds. Whether it's learning how to prepare the food to a guest's satisfaction or learning the process that goes into smoking the meats for each service, there is opportunity after opportunity open for each employee to expand, something Norris also notes that he enjoys. "I came into this with a basic knowledge of barbecue and a desire to learn more, and he [Nuñez] took me under his wing and has really started to teach me everything he knows." With that sort of sentiment, the restaurant not only becomes a place that serves quality food, but also a learning and teaching experience for all involved.

Each jar of pudding is served in an individual mason jar and is one of the most popular items that the restaurant has to offer. Served in a small jar for $4.50 and a large jar for $9.00, the pudding is served with fresh strawberries, bananas and crumbled Chessmen cookies.

Although each day at the restaurant is different, as the restaurant industry is always unpredictable, their goals remain the same: to put forth an incredible guest experience and to serve the best food they possibly can. With their rapid expansion and large customer base, it seems as though the Texas Beef and Cattle Company is well on their way to achieving these goals. Owner James Nuñez is even starting to set his eyes on a new goal: opening a second storefront location in the downtown area.

Starting from a family run catering company in 1998 to expanding into a single storefront to looking for spaces to expand into even more storefronts, it's safe to say the Texas Beef and Cattle Company is on the right track so far, and though one can only guess as to what the future has in store for them, it certainly looks promising.

For more information, visit www.texasbcc.com.

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