A customer waits for his order at Fatboy's BBQ in Cooper. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

You meet some great folks as you travel the blue highways of Texas BBQ. Shannon Bankston and Heather Hoff of Fatboy's BBQ in Cooper are those kind of people.

A year ago, Marshall Cooper and I met Shannon and Heather at Fatboy's, then located in the tiny town of Ladonia in northeast Texas. It was a slow day in the town of 613 residents, so we talked BBQ for half of the afternoon, which of course is one of our favorite things to do. Fatboy's had been open for two and a half years at that point.

In April 2012, they moved their entire BBQ operation to Cooper, population 1,961, located 18 miles east of Ladonia. The location on a busier road in a bigger community would eventually allow them to triple their weekly food sales. Cooper is located 80 miles northeast of Dallas, near Commerce.

The "holy trinity" of Texas BBQ at Fatboy's: Brisket, pork ribs and sausage

We really liked their BBQ the first time around, but we're pretty sure it's gotten even better with the move. Shannon is a wood-only hardcore, that's the way he was raised to cook BBQ. He's preaching to the choir when it comes to the Posse.

In fact, Shannon recently coined the term, "If it ain't wood, it ain't good." Well played Mr. Bankston, well played.....

The meats at Fatboy's continue to be cooked low and slow using only seasoned pecan wood. Marshall declared the ribs and brisket cooked "absolutely perfectly." That's a real compliment from a guy who has 30 years experience cooking real Texas BBQ. Shannon has added a simple salt and pepper rub to his brisket and ribs, just enough to add another layer of flavor to Fatboy's meat offerings.

Shannon Bankston and Heather Hoff enjoy a break after the lunch rush at Fatboy's.

After the move, Fatboy's was originally open on Saturdays but decided to go Monday-Friday only. Business was just too slow in downtown Cooper on the weekends, despite activity at nearby Cooper Lake, considered one of the best fishing lakes in the state. They will reconsider the move only if they think it makes good business sense.

During the week though, they have been busier than ever, with double-parkers filing the parking lot. Great service is a big deal to Heather, who greets almost every customer by name. If you're not friends yet, you will be soon...

Fatboy's BBQ, 850 W. Dallas Ave, Cooper, 903-300-3287. Open Mon-Fri 10:30am-6 pm.

Fatboy's pitmaster and owner Shannon Bankston gives Marshall Cooper a pit tour.


Fatboy's pitmaster Shannon Bankston uses only aged pecan wood to cook BBQ.


Shannon added locks on the pit after moving to the big city, just in case someone tries to grab a midnight snack.


Another satisfied customer leaves Fatboy's BBQ.


This sign points to one of the best BBQ joints in northeast Texas.

All photos ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse

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