Rupert Swadley, Brent’s Paternal Grandfather | Brent Swadley, Owner | Ron Swadley, Brent’s Dad | Sig Faircloth, Brent’s Maternal Grandfather
Meanwhile, both of my grandmothers worked in diners. Pop’s wife, Leona, operated the aptly named “The Diner” in Yoakam, while Sig’s wife, Billie, ran “Lola’s Diner” in Eastland – founded and named for her mother, Lola Harris. Back in those days, successful diners had three main attributes:
Both The Diner and Lola’s both filled small town farmer bellies and souls with all of the above every day (except for Sundays, of course). Meanwhile, both Pop and Sig graduated from feeding cattle to owning their own.
Hospitality + BBQ =
As a young country boy, I got to see my grandmothers’ diners in action. I saw the same people come in, day after day, not just for the patty melt or the pie, but for the conversation, the friendliness and the familiar faces. And let me tell you, I absorbed that southern hospitality down into my bones!
I also was blessed to have a grandfather with an insatiable hunger for great BBQ, and he’d load me in his pickup and drive me across Texas, hunting down the world’s best smoked meats in the most remote spots. I’ve seen just about every roadside pit and hand-built smokehouse in Texas, and that’s where I first learned how real barbeque is done.
“That’s why I say I have both great Bar-B-Q and southern hospitality in my blood. And there ain’t no getting it out.”
“There’s something to this,” I thought to myself. I tracked down the Walmart manager and asked him for the low-down. He told me I could do the same thing under three conditions:
- Choose a charity to benefit with 25% of the proceeds
- Use Walmart products
- That’s it
I was in. The very next weekend, my dad loaned me $100 for groceries, I borrowed my neighbor’s card table and dragged my rickety charcoal grill to the Walmart at Northwest Expressway and Council (Hobby Lobby now). I sold burgers and dogs with chips and a soda for $5 a pop – and sold out in a matter of hours. I used the profits to buy more groceries and kept grilling. I don’t recall how much I raised for Children’s Miracle Network, but I do know I found a way to put diapers on my new son and food on the table – not only for my family, but for the local community.
“That felt so good.”
However, the restaurant business proved difficult, with a 3X rent hike and too much overhead. Even with my now 5-year-old son Koltan helping to man the register, we couldn’t make it work. We shut down Swadley’s Smokehouse, then opened Swadley’s BBQ in Bethany.
“In 2017, we made a bold choice to do right by both our faith and our employees, and closed all of our stores on what is easily the busiest dining day: Sundays.”
But I’m perhaps most proud of passing the torch to my children. It’s a torch that’s burned bright since my Great-Grandmother opened her diner, and since my Grandfather Sig drove me into the farthest reaches of Texas in search of killer BBQ. It burned bright when my father partnered with me to found Swadley’s with a charcoal grill and card table, and now I’m beginning to pass that torch – burning stronger than ever – to my children. Each member of the Swadley family works in our operation in some fashion. We truly are family owned and operated, and we are God-fearing people who love to support and invest in our communities.
I should tell you Koltan has long since been promoted from register – now being a certified chef and our executive chef and pitmaster, creating mind-melting recipes and training every single cook and smoker we employ.
Koltan Swadley, Executive Chef and Pitmaster
Keaton Swadley, Area Manager
I hope this hasn’t been too long, but I feel it’s important you understand that when you come eat with us at Swadley’s, you’re a part of this story, part of our family, and that where we are today has been a long, long time coming.
– Brent Swadley
President of Swadley’s Bar-B-Q
Serious. Slow. Smoked.
Swadley’s BBQ philosophy is a little bit Texas, a little Kansas City, a touch of Memphis and a whole lot of Oklahoma. See how we do it around here.