|Pitmaster Clyde Biggins of Clyde's Rolling Bar-B-Que. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)|
At Clyde's Rolling Bar-B-Que -- a trailer on Westmoreland Road in West Dallas open two days a week and soon to be three -- there's as much nostalgia on the menu as smoked meat.
"Is that Clyde?" an elderly man said as he stopped his big pickup truck beside Clyde Biggins' barbecue pit last Saturday afternoon.
"It's Clyde," Clyde said.
"Do you know me?" the man in the pickup said.
They talked for several minutes, recalling when, two decades ago, Clyde ran a popular barbecue joint a couple blocks away. But after the man left, Clyde still wasn't exactly sure who he was.
"I've been on vacation for 18 years," Clyde said. "After my vacation, my mind went blank."
Regular readers will recall Clyde Biggins, the former Dallas barbecue king who went to prison in 1993 after his conviction for conspiracy that alleged drug trafficking and possession, firearms violations, money laundering and other financial crimes.
We first wrote about him on this blog last June. Since then he has become somewhat of a media darling, with stories by The Dallas Morning News, American Public Media, D magazine and a classic video. Just last Friday, Clyde said, a reporter spent much of the day with him preparing a piece for public radio.
At this point, we need to make a full disclosure. Clyde competed with the Texas BBQ Posse team at the Blues, Bandits and BBQ cook off in Oak Cliff last October. His brisket and ribs didn't place. But we took first place in sausage -- made by Bryan and Martha Gooding -- and won the People's Choice Award.
|Clyde cuts ribs and sausage for a customer at his mobile BBQ pit. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)|
All that weekend, people streamed through our cook site, talking to Clyde. I saw Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs talk to him for 15 minutes. The old BBQ King, in his seventh decade of life, still was an attraction.
After he was released from prison, Clyde tried selling barbecue from his rolling pit from several sites. But he was eventually cited for not having the required permits and stopped.
Soon after the Oak Cliff cookoff, however, he began selling again in West Dallas, near his original restaurant. He said he hasn't been cited since. Saturday was the first time I had seen him since the cook off.
One Dallas police officer came by and ordered ribs for himself and a chopped brisket sandwich to go.
"I'm glad you're back, Clyde," the officer said. He said he had been a regular at Clyde's joint before Clyde went to prison.
Clyde's current business certainly can't compare to before. But he seems content.
He said that he had sold 14 racks of ribs, two briskets and nearly a full case of sausage the day before.
"For me, that's a whole lot," Clyde said.
He has been selling two days a week -- Fridays and Saturdays -- but he said he is soon going to add Thursdays, too. And, he plans to switch to a larger trailer that has a smoker, a grill and a deep fryer.
"I like fish," the old BBQ King said.
|Clyde's trailer setup on the corner of Westmoreland and Bickers in West Dallas. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins)|