After nine years working at Rudy’s Bar-B-Q, Brad Doan left to sell automotive parts in Temple, but he soon missed the restaurant business. So in 2013, he took a job managing the new Waco location of the Twin Peaks restaurant. Two years later, on May 17, 2015, the job turned more dangerous than he’d ever imagine when a fight broke out between rival motorcycle gangs, quickly escalating into one of Texas’s most infamous shootouts. Thankfully, Doan and the other employees emerged unscathed, but the incident hastened his return home to College Station and the barbecue business.
“Barbecue was always my love and passion,” says Doan. During his time in the Army, while stationed in Korea, he would fire up the drum smoker that sat near the motor pool. “We’d smoke chickens and have a good time hanging out on the weekends,” he remembers. When he got out of the Army, he went to work for Rudy’s Bar-B-Q, starting in his hometown of College Station in 2000 when it was just one of two Rudy’s locations. Doan went on to train the staff when the Rudy’s in Denton opened, managed the Waco location (where he trained Andy Sedino, who now runs Meat U Anywhere BBQ), and opened stores in Lubbock and Amarillo. It was great experience in business and barbecue, and even after he left in 2009 to move closer to home, his interest in barbecue didn’t fade. “I got the background with Rudy’s, which jump-started the fever,” he says.
Doan harnessed that fever in 2016 when he bought a food trailer and Klose barbecue pit. He offered catering right away from his new College Station venture, which he called 1775 Texas Pit BBQ after the year of the U.S. Army’s inception. In the fall of 2017, he secured a permanent spot on the western edge of town. “We were looking for something that had that country feel to it,” he said. They found it. The trailer sits at the last driveway before you cross the Brazos River on Highway 60 on the way out to Snook.
There’s a long metal building with huge doors meant for storing large pieces of equipment on the lot, and the last bay of that building is the dining room for 1775. The food trailer sits outside (under cover) and serves as the kitchen and service counter. For outdoor dining, there’s a collection of picnic tables on a new wood deck. An enclosure behind the trailer holds the smoker. Doan said he’s already in the market for another, given the high demand he’s found for his barbecue.
The menu is focused, with just four meats and four sides. There’s only dessert if Doan’s mother, Belinda, has made one for the day. She takes customers’ orders inside the trailer and makes the sides too. Doan’s father, Mark, greets customers in line and oversees the dining room. Even Brad’s brother Brandon helps out on busy days. It’s a family business, through and through.
Those homemade sides are certainly a draw. Corn casseroles can be dense and heavy, but Belinda’s was sweet and airy with an unexpected layer of melted cheddar. The chunky potato salad was flecked with peppers, onions, and plenty of egg. Chopped brisket fortified the well-cooked pinto beans, but my favorite was the loaded mashed potatoes. The potatoes are whipped with sour cream, spread out in a pan, topped with cheese, bacon, and green onions, then baked until nicely browned.
Doan doesn’t skimp on the meat. The briskets are all Prime grade, and the pork ribs are from fatty Duroc pigs. The latter is uncommon at most Texas barbecue joints (it’s expensive), and it gave an extra zing to the ribs, which were incredibly juicy with a slightly sweet rub heavy on the black pepper and smoked paprika. It does the same for the excellent smoked turkey, which gets the same rub and comes out moist with just a hint of smoke.
The rub on the briskets is simply salt and pepper. The beef is only lightly trimmed before smoking, with plenty of fat cap on the lean side. The meat was well-smoked and plenty moist. I enjoyed it, but the bottoms of the briskets are getting some uneven heat in the smoker, making for a thin layer of overcooked, almost crunchy beef.
It would seem Doan had two obvious options for his smoked sausage, as Ruffino Meats in College Station makes it for dozens of Texas barbecue joints, and Slovacek’s, just down the road from 1775 in Snook, supplies even more. But the pitmaster chose the tiny Ed’s Butcher Block in downtown Bryan instead. (Ruffino Meats does supply 1775 with pork and beef.) I tried the hot sausage, which has some real kick. (There’s also an extra hot, which Doan hasn’t yet served to the public.) The links are coarsely ground and on the pleasantly dry side. They taste like an old-fashioned sausage and pair well with the sauce.
There’s plenty to like from this little joint on the edge of College Station. For now, they’re open only three days a week, but they’re planning to add Sunday service soon. Doan warns customers to get there early if they want their choice of meats. Friday and Saturday business has been especially brisk, as they routinely sell out by 2 p.m. He’d like to cook more, but wants to grow at a slow pace to keep quality high. “It’s a lot more work than working for a company,” says Doan about running his own place, adding, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
1775 Texas Pit BBQ
8203 Raymond Stotzer Pkwy, College Station, TX, 77845
Pitmaster: Brad Doan
Year opened: 2017