Long lines at Franklin BBQ in Austin, top, and Pecan Lodge in Dallas. (Photos © Daniel Goncalves)

Aaron Franklin has made it cool to stand in a long line for barbecue. That has been the norm at his joint in Austin going back to its trailer days in 2009.

Now, the phenomenon appears to be spreading, as we discovered on our recent Best of Texas BBQ Tour.

When we left Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que in Tyler about noon last Friday, three dozen people were in line and more appeared to be walking down the sidewalk to join the queue.

This was our first visit to Stanley’s on a weekday, so some of the traffic could probably be explained by a normal workday lunch rush. Still, the line is a testament to the food.

The longest line we found was at Franklin Barbecue. When we arrived on Saturday about an hour after its 11 a.m. opening, more than 100 people were lined up. And the slightest mist of rain was falling.

Franklin used to cut and serve all the meat himself. But he stopped a while back.

“The line goes faster this way,” he said as he minded the pits behind his restaurant. “When I cut, I talk too much. A two-hour line turns into a four-hour line.”

On Sunday, the line at Pecan Lodge in Dallas got almost as long as Franklin’s.

We arrived 40 minutes before the 11 a.m. opening and there were already a dozen people ahead of us. When the place opened, about 90 people were waiting. As people were served, more customers came so that number held relatively constant for the next couple hours.

The popularity of Pecan Lodge, owned by Justin and Diane Fourton, has zoomed since the place appeared on the TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives last year. On any given day, though, the nature of the line can change.

“Sometimes, I come out at 10:50 and there’s nobody in line and I tell Diane it’s over,” Justin said Sunday. “Then it fills in.”

Lines aren’t always a good sign.

When we arrived at Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que in Lockhart at 2 p.m. on Saturday , about 40 people were ahead of us and the line extended out the front door and down the sidewalk. The place was also doing brisk drive-thru takeout business.

At first we were surprised and encouraged. A long line like that so late in the day must mean the place is serving good stuff. But when we finally got inside the door, we noticed that the tables were mostly empty. Just about everyone was standing in the same line as us, waiting, because of a bottleneck at the cashier.

It took 45 minutes before we ordered and the food was mediocre. That was anything but cool.

Pecan Lodge pitmaster Justin Fourton shows the “Slim Pickins” sign given to the last person in line likely to get their choice of meats. Pecan Lodge is open Thurs.-Sun. from 11am til the meat runs out. (Photo © Daniel Goncalves)

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