Dismal winter traffic shutters Hurtado Barbecue location in Little Elm
An award-winning barbecue concept has closed a location: Hurtado Barbecue, the small local chain owned by husband-and-wife Brandon and Hannah Hurtado, closed its location in Little Elm at 100 Hardwicke Ln.
The restaurant shared the news in a Facebook post, stating that its last day was Sunday, February 5.
"It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of our Little Elm location," their post said. "We gave it everything we had, but after being forced to close with severe water leaks and inclement weather in a very seasonal town, we unfortunately couldn't recover."
"We're still open in Arlington and Fort Worth and will be hyper focused on making those locations two of the best in the business," they said.
Brandon Hurtado started his BBQ journey doing barbecue in his backyard, then graduated to a food truck before opening the first brick-and-mortar location in Arlington in February 2020. Bolstered by incentives from the city of Little Elm, they opened a location there in mid-2022, followed by a third location in Fort Worth in September 2022.
Their two locations in Tarrant County have both prospered, but Little Elm came with some challenges, Brandon said in an email.
"Little Elm is a lakefront town," he said. "They're incredibly busy during the summer with a massive beach and boat docks, but abysmal sales during the fall and winter."
"Our Fort Worth and Arlington locations are thriving, but I just couldn't take another day in Little Elm with fewer than 25 customers walking in the door," he said.
Hurtado's served its menu of brisket, ribs, sausage, turkey, and burnt ends plus sides such as Hatch chile mac & cheese and baked potato salad. Little Elm had one thing the other locations did not: a full bar. To no avail.
Some Little Elm locals floated theories on the location. "It’s that building. It’s cursed!" said one.
"We went there once a month. That building for whatever reason can’t seem to hold a restaurant more than a year," said another.
Beyond the building itself, others noted that the location was remote, made less accessible by a toll bridge.
"That location was too far into Little Elm for the price point Hurtado’s offered and not convenient even for someone who lives in the area. The same was for Kabuki who occupied the space before Hurtado’s," said a third.
"The truth is, you are in a bad spot because the drive is far out from most people. Most people didn’t even know you existed," said a fourth.