Colleyville eatery sticks to your ribs
Von Husbands’ entrepreneurial spirit and skills go way back. The Red Barn Bar-B-Que business owner moved with his family to Colleyville at the age of 7, and just five years later, he started his first business.
“My sister and I owned a snow cone truck,” he said. “She was 15 and drove, and I was 12 and made the snow cones. I guess that’s how it started.”
Fast forward a couple of decades and Husbands, whose mother had run ladies’ clothing and shoe stores in Grapevine, owned an auto detailing shop in Hurst.
Then came the smoker.
“I became a backyard barbecue warrior,” he said. “Self taught, lots of competitions — and every weekend, friends and neighbors wanted me to cook barbecue for them.”
It started as a hobby, but his weekend pursuits for the perfect rubs, the tangiest sauces and the most tender meat soon became an overwhelming passion. Friends and family encouraged him to open a restaurant, but he blew off the idea until the summer of 2005, when one day as he drove down Hwy. 26, he took a second glance at a small, red building near the corner of Colleyville Boulevard and Glade Road. For 34 years, the building had housed the Red Barn Saddle Shop — he remembered it from his childhood — but that day, a For Sale sign caught his eye.
“It just struck me: it looked like a barbecue joint,” he said. “So I made a call. Thirty days later, I was renovating the building.”
After months of work, Husbands opened Red Barn Bar-B-Que on Oct. 17, 2005. He had only two volunteers helping him that first day, and after dumping money into the building and his equipment, Husbands says he had only $13 to his name.
“It freaked me out,” he admits, “but I rolled the dice. I opened with no employees, no money — but I served 193 people that day and we ran out of food by six o’clock in the evening.”
Husbands’ is the oldest commercial building in the city, he said, and at one point it was a small house (a bathtub was still in the bathroom when he took over).
He renovated it from the ground up based on memories of his favorite barbecue restaurant as a child in Amarillo. Planks of cedar line the walls and ceiling, windows are framed by curtains of red, paisley bandana material tied back with twine and rusted tin signs decorate the walls.
Today the place smells of pecan wood-smoked meat and offers seating at 11 wood tabletops. Husbands has kept the same classic menu since opening, featuring ribs, brisket, sausage, chicken, turkey, wings and more.
And apart from the banana pudding, which he credits to his mom, all of the recipes are his. After nearly seven years of success, Red Barn Bar-B-Que now turns out 112,000 pounds of meat annually, and Husbands is still involved in the day-to-day.
“You’ll see me busing tables, cooking, hosting; I love doing it,” he said.
He has also found a way to give back with his talents. In recent years, Husbands has fed the homeless on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and during last year’s Possum Kingdom fire, he drove to the front lines and fed more than 900 firemen.
“I feed people every day,” he said. “Those are just new ways for me to feed people — ways that mean something to me.”
Von Husbands has kept the same menu at Red Barn Bar-B-Que since his first day back in 2005. He tweaked all of his recipes before opening, he said, but he definitely has favorites of his own.
Ribs: “Baby-back ribs are kind of like the filet mignon of barbecue,” Husbands said. “That’s what you’re getting judged on. If you don’t have good ribs, you might as well lock the doors. They’ve got to be fall-off-the-bone.”
Fresh-cut french fries: “They’re just good; we don’t use frozen fries. They’re cut fresh, and we probably go through about 300 pounds of potatoes every week.”
Broccoli salad: “You don’t see it everywhere, and it’s just a favorite of mine — and of a lot of our customers.”
Banana pudding: “Because it’s my mother’s recipe. It’s what I had growing up as a kid.”
Husbands’ team opened a mid-cities location of Red Barn Bar-B-Que in April. The new restaurant features:
- A full bar
- Live music on the weekends
- 32 big-screen TVs for sports watching
- Steaks in addition to the original barbecue menu
- A party room
8204 Bedford-Euless Road, North Richland Hills
Red Barn Bar–B–Que, 4913 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville, 817-788-4553, www.redbarnmidcities.com
Hours: Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
Editor’s Note: Though Husbands was involved in the opening of a second location of his business three years ago, he has not been affiliated with what is now called Big Barn Bar-B-Que in North Richland Hills since soon after its opening.