A longtime barbecue restaurant in Dallas' Snider Plaza has closed. Do we even have to say the name? It's Peggy Sue BBQ, which occupied a gateway spot in the University Park shopping center at 6600 Snider Plaza for 31 years, that had been a barbecue destination since 1945.
The restaurant had been "temporarily closed" since early spring; with COVID-19, it finally bit the dust.
"We have not signed the final divorce agreement, we've got a few more things to get worked out, but we've already started showing the space to interested parties," says Jerry Washam of the Ralph Porter Company, which owns and leases much of Snider Plaza, including Peggy Sue's space. "But as we knew it, it's gone and I hope I can find the next reincarnation."
The restaurant was acquired in early 2020 by Robert Breon, who previously worked for a tech company. In March, he responded to an inquiry on its status by stating that he had no comment regarding his plans or progress.
He closed it for renovations, although neighbors saw only incremental improvements being made.
"We gave them time and an adjustment on the rent to do some improvements, but I think eventually COVID-19 took him under," Washam says.
Peggy Sue was opened in 1989 by Marc and Susan Hall, who carried on a tradition of barbecue at that location established by previous tenants Howard and Peggy's, then Peggy's beef bar, which closed in the late 1980s.
During their tenure, the Halls hung the original menu on the wall of the main dining room, and displayed other decor items from the past, as well. "We kept the place firmly looking like the 1950s BBQ joint we all loved!" the Halls said on their website.
In addition to respecting and upholding the history, they created what was one of the area's very few decent barbecue restaurants at that time, back in the days when Dallas BBQ was Sonny Bryan's and not much else.
The couple had visited some of the renowned barbecue joints in Central Texas and made that their benchmark. They featured USDA Prime grade brisket sliced or chopped to order, dry-rubbed baby back pork ribs, smoked chicken sourced from Texas farms, sliced turkey breast, and smoked sausage.
The place also held a full bar called the Cadillac Lounge, which was available for private parties and served as an unfussy outpost in a ritzy neighborhood where people could enjoy an affordable drink.
"It's bittersweet for me, because I grew up with the original Peggy's," says Washam, affectionately known as the Mayor of Snider Plaza, and named University Park's Citizen of the Year in 2017. "It's been there longer than Kuby's, another Snider Plaza treasure. It was a BBQ restaurant since 1945 and is the oldest business in Snider Plaza by far."
Washam's grandfather Ralph Porter helped build Snider Plaza.
"Mr. Snider called us to say, 'I want you to help me develop this thing,'" he says. "That corner means a lot to me — my family started this, my grandfather started this."
Prior to its restaurant days, the building was a Sinclair gas station built in 1927, and over the years it received many tacked-on additions.
Washam hopes to keep it local and not a big chain. "A few local BBQ people have looked at it, we've got some good prospects who want to keep it Texas," he says.
"It needs to remain the cornerstone, I feel like I have an obligation to the area and to the city, to keep it the Southern gateway to the Plaza," he says. "You don't want a Denny's or a fast-food place. You want something Snider Plaza. There's a lot of people who would like to come and have a beer or a glass of wine, and they don't want to pay $30. I'm going to hold out for the best as I can."