Remembering Peggy Sue BBQ

Highland Park ISD board president Jim Hitzelberger won’t forget his introduction to barbecue. 

It came in the Snider Plaza building that until recently housed Peggy Sue BBQ, known when Hitzelberger was a boy as Peggy and Howard’s.

“Peggy took the order, and Howard cut the meat,” Hitzelberger said. “I later discovered their fried pies covered with powdered sugar. Never thought this day would come.”  

The eatery helped provide the fuel during call nights for the YMCA Partners campaign, Richard Umphress said. “Never missed that night.”

The longtime eatery may not be reopening, but memories remain.

Peggy Sue BBQ opened in 1989, carrying on the location’s barbecue tradition started by previous tenants Howard and Peggy’s, then Peggy’s Beef Bar, which closed in the late 1980s, according to the Peggy Sue BBQ website. 

“I recognize that corner and what it is. I mean, that’s been a barbecue restaurant longer than Kuby’s has been there. That’s been a barbecue restaurant since the mid-40s,” said Jerry Washam of the Ralph Porter Company, which manages much of Snider Plaza. “I recognize that southern gateway to Snider Plaza is going to demand something special, and that’s what we’re trying to do, but also keep it Snider Plaza, too.” 

Marc and Susan Hall ran the 1989 iteration.

“While exploring the building, we discovered on the flat roof, the 1950s original porcelain metal letters used on the exterior—’Peggy’s Beef Bar.’ Only the ‘Peggy’ was in good shape. We suddenly wanted it to find new life,” Marc said. “To maintain the 1950s feeling of the place with an updated barbecue style, and because my wife’s name is Susa, and we loved the Buddy Holly song Peggy Sue, the new name came to us — Peggy Sue BBQ. So our exterior sign used the original metal Peggy and newly fabricated metal Sue BBQ in a matching style. Something old and something new.”

Snider Plaza has other vacancies, including the spaces that housed Stella Nova, Creme de la Cookie, and Junebug Kids.

“There’s a lot of people, obviously, that didn’t make it, and I think the next couple of months are pretty critical,” Washam said. “This is not business as usual.”

However, in recent weeks, he’s had increased interest in the spaces, and he’s been in talks with a lot of people about the space that housed Peggy Sue BBQ.

“I’m a little optimistic about the immediate future…If we can just get a few people in there so people can see that there are people coming in – that opens up all kinds of doors,” Washam said. “You have ownership that has different points of view that like to do things differently, so it’s not uniform…and a lot of people think that’s a negative. I tend to think it’s a positive if we all do it the right way because it keeps it eclectic if you will, and it keeps its personality.”

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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