Hurtado Barbecue in Little Elm closed Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023 after owner Brandon Hurtado says the lakeside restaurant saw a strong boom in sales when it opened in summer 2022, then a “drastic drop” by October.
The restaurant never recovered after the summer months, Hurtado says. Lunch during the week was rarely busy — which many barbecue joints need to survive.
The original Hurtado Barbecue in Arlington, open since February 2020, and another location in Fort Worth, open since September 2022, remain.
Hurtado is also now the official barbecue restaurant of the Texas Rangers, and the company signed a sponsorship deal to serve barbecue at games and special events for the next few years.
Hurtado has also had some star-studded opportunities. The day before Hurtado served its last plates of sliced brisket, sausage and Hatch chile mac and cheese in Little Elm, Hurtado found himself grilling rib-eyes for Bobby Flay and smoking barbecue for some of the cast members of Yellowstone. The event was at Bosque Ranch, one of the locations where Yellowstone was filmed, and was a fundraiser for the National Youth Cutting Horse Association.
Taylor Sheridan, the show’s co-creator, called Hurtado personally to ask him to be part of the fundraiser. Cole Hauser, who plays Yellowstone character Rip Wheeler, was one of the many celebrities Hurtado met.
Hurtado seemed to feel whiplash from a nearly unbelievable week: A winter freeze that closed restaurants mid-week, a celebrity dinner once the roads thawed out, and then the permanent closure of a barbecue joint that had been open for about eight months.
The Little Elm restaurant was already struggling from a water leak before Christmas. The restaurant was closed for Christmas Eve, a big day for barbecue sales.
“It’s just a huge loss,” Hurtado says.
Hurtado Barbecue in Little Elm was at 100 Hardwicke Lane. Restaurants remain open at 205 E. Front St., Arlington, and at 1116 8th Ave., Fort Worth.
Brandon Hurtado also owns and operates Hayters Bar & Lounge at 213 E. Front St., Arlington.