Can it really be that Thelma’s is no more?
The restaurant on Southmore Boulevard was a barbecue institution. OK, maybe the Southmore location wasn’t an institution. The original on Live Oak was the joint immortalized on PBS, the Food Network and the Travel Network. The original was closed following a fire in 2009.
Stories about Thelma Williams’ hospitality are legion. And most aren’t positive.
Alison Cook has characterized Thelma’s barbecue as “smoky” and “delicious,” while describing the pit mistress as “cantankerous.”
Not unlike many other Houston barbecue lovers, I have my own story about Thelma’s.
A few years ago my mother and I visited the original location. I had warned Mom about the restaurant’s ordering system (be quick and don’t ask for anything special -- like sauce on the side). We were standing in the line that had formed before the restaurant opening. Someone near the front of the line started knocking on the door when it was 10 minutes after the posted opening hour. Thelma started yelling through the door and threatened not to open at all. We all waited another 20 minutes silently in line until she decided to unlock the door.
Was it worth the abuse? You betcha.
We’ve reached out to Williams and hope to hear back about her future plans.
In the meantime, do you have a Thelma’s story to share?