It’s a number of days earlier than the reopening of The Girl and the Pit, and co-owner Kenneth Barton is busy testing out “the pit.” A close-by stack of mesquite wooden will quickly be diminished as Barton, log by log, feeds his custom-made smoker, a magnificence he constructed himself years in the past. Quickly, plumes of smoke start to unfold the unmistakable perfume of barbecue, inflicting the hungry and the curious to cease of their tracks. “Subsequent week,” he tells an inquiring passerby. “Subsequent week and we’ll lastly be open once more.”
Speak about a very long time coming: For the previous two years, Kenneth Barton and co-owner Natasha Smith, the “Girl” within the restaurant’s title, have been looking for a brand new dwelling for his or her acclaimed barbecue and soul meals restaurant. Named by Fort Value Journal as among the finest new eating places in 2017 — sentiments echoed by Texas Month-to-month and the Star-Telegram — The Girl and the Pit thrived for 3 years within the Handley space of town’s east aspect earlier than it was beset by upkeep points; it closed in 2019.
Second possibilities within the restaurant business are robust to return by. Throw in a pandemic, and nobody would blame you in case you simply moved on. However enterprise companions Barton and Smith have been decided to discover a new dwelling for his or her beloved restaurant, and in January, they did simply that, touchdown at 5301 E. Lancaster Ave., in a constructing that also sports activities the signature structure of a sure Mexican fast-food chain.
Since January, they’ve been making it their very own, including a pleasant eating room space, a much bigger kitchen, and, in fact, a pit room for Barton’s smoker.
“Totally different constructing however the identical really feel,” Smith says. “It’s a home-cooking restaurant, so it’ll have a home-type really feel, such as you’re consuming with your loved ones.”
The Fort Value natives opened their first restaurant in 2012 within the Port Isabel space of South Padre Island. However after Smith’s father grew sick in 2015, they moved again dwelling, relocating the restaurant to an previous Pizza Inn within the Handley space of the east aspect.
There, the 2 made names for themselves for glorious barbecue and Southern and soul meals classics, corresponding to fried pork chops, catfish, and chicken-fried steak. Housemade desserts included pineapple cream pie and strawberry lemonade cake.
Most of menu from the Handley location will make the leap, both as each day specials or everlasting menu objects. A handful of more healthy dishes will probably be added, corresponding to smoked salmon and smoked mahi mahi.
Smoked rooster salad, a preferred merchandise solely accessible on sure days on the Handley location, will probably be a everlasting fixture on the brand new menu. Smith says she’s additionally toying with the thought of including stuffed turkey legs, which have gotten more and more extra common in Fort Value. The barbecue menu will embrace chopped and sliced brisket, pulled pork, scorching hyperlinks, smoked rooster, bologna, and pork ribs, with sides corresponding to collard greens and candied yams.
Smith and Barton have their very own distinct roles on the restaurant: She focuses on the home-cooking dishes, whereas he zeroes in on the barbecue. Each discovered their instruments of the commerce by watching — and studying — from others.
Smith says she honed her cooking expertise along with her grandmother, who taught her the fundamentals of constructing pancakes, biscuits, and different staples of Southern delicacies.
Barton’s love of meals developed over a decades-long profession working within the restaurant business. When he recites the names of the eating places he’s cooked in, it’s like taking a visit by Fort Value’s culinary historical past: “The Keg, Cattlemen’s, Winfield’s, J. T. McCords, Luminarias, and Calamity Jane’s,” he says. He cooks his barbecue similarly to how The Keg ready its steaks, utilizing a direct warmth methodology.
Smith says The Girl and the Pit will probably be open by the top of June.
The Girl and the Pit 714 Important St., theharperfortworth.com