In the days before Lockhart Smokehouse, Pecan Lodge and God bless him, Aaron Franklin, there was one barbecue restaurant that meant the world to Oak Cliff.
Here’s how we described the food and atmosphere in a 2011 retrospective:
… customers enjoyed sliced beef sandwiches, greasy fries (real ones, mind you), coleslaw, beans, ribs, steaks and to-die-for burgers. Some … opted for the outside drive-in slots, parking under the canopy to order food and drinks from Austin’s no-nonsense carhops.
Austin’s was a meeting place for everyone, including politicians, business leaders, hourly wage-earners and high-school cool kids.
Inside, teenage customers always hoped to snatch one of the booths with the mini-jukeboxes mounted on the end panels. Students could enjoy a cozy confinement with friends while conveniently picking music selections for the main jukebox.
Like so many places in our neighborhood, it also has a connection to the JFK assassination.
Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit moonlighted at Austin’s, working security on weekends. The Staff Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations reads “that he [Cook] had employed Tippit at the time of the assassination ‘as a deterrent’ to any teenage trouble from youths who frequented the establishment.”
Due to a web of coincidental liaisons between Bowman and assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, the FBI interviewed Cook and many of the Cook and Bowman family members, with Cook telling the investigators that he never heard Tippit mention Oswald or Jack Ruby.
The restaurant, at Hampton and Illinois, closed and was demolished in 2002. There’s now a CVS on the site.