This East Texas barbecue spot has been 5 generations in the making!
COVID-19 UPDATE: Brisket Love Barbecue & Icehouse is currently open for dine-in, with modified hours listed in their Facebook announcement below.
Craig and Lee Ann Wood opened Brisket Love Barbecue & Icehouse in Lindale, Texas in April 2019.
Craig says he started cooking barbecue when he was in high school (or maybe even sooner) but his love for food and the restaurant business dates back generations. In fact, Craig Wood is a 5th generation Lindale resident, and his wife Lee Ann, raised in Tyler, is no stranger to East Texas either.
“My grandparents owned several businesses in Lindale back in the 50s,” said Craig Wood, owner of Brisket Love. “They had retired for the most part by the time I was of age, but I heard the stories and learned a lot from them about running a business, especially the restaurant business, and they were a huge inspiration for me [opening Brisket Love.]”
At Brisket Love they use two 1,000 gallon propane tanks converted into traditional smokers to cook their meat. The two pits are named Goose and Maverick.
“Pretty much all pit masters name their pits as far as I know, and we’re no exception,” said Craig. “I’m also a recreational pilot, and one of my favorite movies is Top Gun so we named the pits Maverick and Goose, and we also have another pit at home that’s almost as big as these guys and that’s Viper.”
Goose and Maverick run almost 24 hours a day to keep up with the barbecue demand of Brisket Love.
“There’s the science of [cooking it],” said Craig. “When we cook we consider things like, even inside, the wind direction, humidity outside, temperature, even barometric pressure. All of that goes into how we cook and how we run our rire. It’s been very interesting to me all my life, I’m a student of barbecue.”
Craig says the brisket takes anywhere from 14 to 17 hours to cook, start to finish. And they cook upwards of 1,500 pounds of brisket a week.
“I’m always trying to think of a way or something to tweak to make it just a little bit better,” said Craig. “We’re not perfect, we’ll never be perfect, but we strive for perfection.”
For most Texans, barbecue makes up most of the food pyramid. We take our brisket seriously! So, I know what you’re probably thinking, what makes this place so special?
“We’ve traveled all over Texas, to all of the top barbecue places,” said Lee Ann. “We love doing that! And [Brisket Love] is basically just what we love. When we go out of town we look for outside seating, we like live music, we like being able to sit outside and enjoy a fresh breeze and a cool drink.”
In addition to the barbecue, it was very important to the Wood’s to include a wide variety of food on their menu. You’ll find options like burgers, onion rings, french fries and a variety of salads.
“A lot of the reason why we have such a diverse menu is because a lot of other [barbecue] places don’t offer anything but barbecue,” said Lee Ann. “And we want to be able to cater to every body.”
Brisket Love is also a location in East Texas that’s designed to make you feel like you’re in the Hill Country region.
“It’s a lot of what you see in the Texas hill country, and that’s the kind of vibe and feeling that we wanted to bring,” said Craig. “The icehouse experience is kind of a Hill Country, Austin, San Antonio feel. It’s kind of what we love, and we couldn’t really find it anywhere else in East Texas so we just thought we’d bring a little bit of it here.”
Well the folks at Brisket Love have a saying: “Come for the food, stay for the experience.” And the experience at Brisket Love is unlike anything else in East Texas.
When we started planning this it was just going to be a barbecue restaurant, and then we decided to do a full-service bar and an outdoor area,” said Craig. “We were going to have a bar inside and out, but we decided that we wanted to keep the inside of the restaurant more family oriented so we decided to create almost two separate entities. So we have the restaurant inside, and outside we have a little more of a bar, a central Texas bar feeling, where we have an open air beer garden and a 3,000 square foot dance hall that we call Hackberry Hall. So we kind of separate the two (restaurant & icehouse) but yet they’re still one.”
The name Hackberry Hall actually comes from the giant Hackberry tree that is right in the center of their outdoor Beer Garden.
Hackberry Hall, is essentially all things Texas. The ceiling is a decked out Texas Flag, and the bar and tables and everything in between is designed to make you feel at home.
Outside in the beer garden you’ll find picnic tables with umbrellas to provide shade. Don’t let the name ‘beer garden’ fool you, kids and families are encouraged to take a seat outdoors. You’ll find games for the whole family like washers and corn hole.
“We basically cater to everyone,” said Lee Ann. “If you’re in the mood for some fantastic barbecue we’ve got you covered. If you want a hamburger or baked potato or just some appetizers we’ve got you covered there. If you want to come with your family and enjoy a very nice atmosphere that’s quite peaceful we have that. If you want to walk through another door and it’s got a little bit louder music, or maybe even live music at times, and a bar where a lot of friends meet up and people like to come and hang out, we offer that. If you want to sit outside and your kids can play games we have that. It’s just for everybody.”
“So Craig’s the barbecue guy, and I’m the marketing girl,” said Lee Ann. “So while he’s thinking of how to make great barbecue I’m thinking of how I’m going to market this place.”
And what you don’t know about Brisket Love is how close everyone really is. And part of that bond is that everyone has ‘stage names.’ So Craig sometimes goes by the name of Marvin, and one of the Wood’s close, close family friends goes by the name of Coy.
“There’s never a dull moment when Coy’s around, and we knew that that’s how we wanted to portray the restaurant,” said Lee Ann. “We needed somebody that could gain your attention and keep it, and that’s Coy. So on our Facebook we’ve got lots of Coy’s videos. He’s the one that announces what’s going on here and takes you on tours, and if we have a new special coming up Coy’s the one that will let everyone know about it. And he just does [the videos] beautifully.”
So that’s how Coy became the mascot of Brisket Love. So what exactly does the mascot do?
“[My job] is to show people what Brisket Love is all about,” said Coy, again not his real name. “My favorite part of Brisket Love, other than Marvin, is the experience. The food is outstanding, that’s what brings people back time after time. But the ambiance that Brisket Love brings to East Texas, that Central Texas feel, it’s just a place where people feel at home. And that’s what we want to make sure people understand about Brisket Love is we love everybody. We want you here! That’s why love’s in the name.”
Coy also adds that his “favorite thing on the menu is the brisket. It’s the tenderest think you’ll put in your mouth, and bar none it’s the best in East Texas.”
Brisket Love Barbecue & Icehouse is located at 15338 FM 849 in Lindale, Texas.
Their current hours of operation are:
Tuesday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
You can visit their website here.
And don’t forget to follow them on Facebook to keep up with their latest events, specials and announcements.
with The East Texas Weekend
While you’re in Lindale: