All in the Family is a three-part series that features the stories behind classic family-owned restaurants and food businesses in Texas. In our final video, we look at the sixty-year journey of well-known Houston restaurant, This Is It Soul Food.
This Is It Soul Food
In 1959, Frank and Mattie Jones opened This Is It on the corner of Andrews and Buckner, and the restaurant has been serving up soul food to the Houston community ever since. The Jones’ grandson, Craig Joseph, now runs this family business with his children, continuing Frank and Mattie’s legacy with pride and love. He has passed down their homegrown recipes to his grandchildren, ensuring that This Is It carries on for another sixty years to come.
When you’re cooking with love...people are going to show up.
— Craig Joseph
A self-professed niche restaurant, This Is It compliments Houston’s diverse culinary scene and is a staple for the city’s Third Ward community. You can find various traditional Southern dishes there, from mac ‘n’ cheese to cornbread; but when it comes to meat, This Is It is most well-known for its oxtails. The oxtails take four to five hours to prepare, but the results—intense flavor and fall-off-the-bone tenderness—are worth the wait. Watch the story below to meet the family behind this soul food restaurant.
With the help of two chefs from Taiwan, Buck Kao launched his Dallas restaurant, Royal China, in 1974. Carrying on Buck’s legacy, his son, George, and his wife, April, now run the restaurant. Together, the couple continues to serve fresh meals that satisfy customers across North Texas. The Kaos see their community as extended family, and some regulars even enjoy Christmas Day traditions inside the restaurant.
I love Texas, and I feel like dry stirred beef is one of our love songs to Texas.
— Joyuan Kao
A menu staple and customer favorite is the dry stirred beef, a dish inspired by Buck’s love for Texas. Producing a meal that is perfectly crispy, tender, and sweet, this recipe has not changed since Buck first opened Royal China in the 70s. Meet the family behind this iconic North Texas restaurant in the video below.
Kiolbassa Smoked Meats
In 1949, Rufus Kiolbassa opened the doors of Kiolbassa Smoked Meats in San Antonio to provide quality sausage to the local community. Kiolbassa even translates to sausage in Polish, so it was a given the family legacy would follow their namesake. The original recipes have been passed down from generation to generation ever since. Following his father’s passing, Robert Kiolbassa took over the family business eleven years later, and grew it to become a staple of the San Antonio community.
It is our family helping your family.
— Michael Kiolbassa
Eventually, Robert’s son Michael took the reins. Without sacrificing quality and taste, the Kiolbassa family now distributes their family recipes, including the favorite, best-selling beef sausage, to homes across the nation. Watch the story below to meet the family behind the famous Texas sausage.
For a special beef sausage recipe, try Kiolbassa’s sausage fajitas!
- 1 pkg Kiolbassa Beef cut on the bias
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 onion, cut into strips
- 2 fresh jalapeños, sliced
- 4 garlic bulbs, minced
- 2 T. fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 pkg fajita seasoning marinade
- 1 pkg. of tortilla
- Combine sliced sausage, peppers and onions to a ziplock bag with fajita marinade. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Toss fajita ingredients into the skillet and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
- Add garlic and jalapeños to the skillet and serve on warm tortillas.
- Dive in & don’t forget to share how to make fajitas with your friends!
Videos shot by Riley Engemoen. Edited by Jo Huang-Zollner.