BBQ joint that started in a trailer sets up shop in historic Sanger building

Published in The Denton Record-Chronicle on June 1, 2014

SANGER — Jay Coin always enjoyed cooking barbecue, but he spent seven years building up the nerve to open a restaurant.

His wife, Mindy, finally convinced him to open Texas Smoke BBQ Co. last July in a small travel trailer.

By January, he had moved into a building next door. And this week, less than a year after opening, the business will begin operating in a new spot, a historic building in downtown Sanger.

“She knew I wanted to do it and was 100 percent behind me and said, ‘Do it. You’ll never know what will happen unless you try,’” Jay Coin said. “That’s what I did.”

Coin said he is “big on downtown” and hopes the downtown Sanger community will continue to pick up. He said recently he couldn’t wait to reopen his restaurant on Sanger’s square to help downtown thrive.

“The downtown [Denton] area has exploded, and I love the old buildings and the feel of the old town,” he said. “Denton’s done a nice job of bringing the Square back to life, so hopefully that will happen here.”

He said other local businesses can help each other.

“Babe’s [Chicken Dinner House] is a big draw here, so hopefully with the out-of-town people going to eat at Babe’s, they’ll notice our place and say, ‘Maybe next time, we’ll come out and try this place,’” he said.

The previous location of Texas Smoke BBQ has been closed for more than a week, with a sign on the door directing people to the new location on the Sanger square at 205 Bolivar St. If all goes as planned, it’ll open Tuesday, Coin said.

“We were doing good enough to move out of the trailer, and now we’ve just outgrown the place we were in,” Coin said.

The Coins said they have always liked the Bolivar Street building, which is bigger and offers more room for seating.

“We always said if we ever happened to do a restaurant or a bar or something, we’d love to get this building because it’s a rustic, really neat old building,” Jay Coin said.

Mindy’s father and one of his employees at his construction company have done most of the work to help them cut costs. They’re upgrading to commercial equipment for the move, which should reduce production costs in the long run, he said.

The menu will largely remain the same, though Jay Coin is hoping to add chicken, turkey and ham, which had been offered as specials at the other locations.

To help with the new location, Coin has brought in Don Jost, who owned Wimpy’s Hamburgers when Coin was in high school. Jost will be working on the “day-to-day things” that will help Coin run the restaurant.

Coin said he prides himself on using fresh ingredients and never reheats his food. Texas Smoke BBQ Co. will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. or until they sell out — whatever comes first.

“I’m trying to set myself apart from other places and, what I can, I get local to help with freshness,” he said.

Mindy Coin ran a salon in the suite next to the restaurant but closed it to help her husband. Now she rents a booth at another salon in town, squeezing appointments in between her responsibilities at the restaurant.

“It’s something he’s always wanted to do and he can’t do it by himself,” she said. “It works out because I can schedule my appointments in the mornings or evenings and work around my kids’ schedules.”

The restaurant has been popular, with some regulars coming up from Denton to dine.

Glen McDaniel, who runs a gun store inside Sanger Hardware, has eaten at Texas Smoke daily since Coin started serving barbecue in a trailer. McDaniel said he can’t say enough about the restaurant’s cobblers or the meaty ribs.

The food and service were good and consistent, but the previous locations were too small, McDaniel said.

“I’m glad to see them get out of there,” he said. “They’re really crowded over there and were getting great clientele. I’ve walked over there before and had to come back over here and wait a while and go back because they were really full. All the seats were taken because they get a lot of business. But it’s always worth the wait.”

Construction begins on Lewisville's Coyote Drive-In theater.(Photo by Adam Schrader)

Anticipation for Coyote Drive-In grows, company postpones opening for rain

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Published in The Lewisville Texan Journal on June 4, 2016

Drive-in theaters have been absent from the Denton County community since The Rancho in Denton closed in the 1980s. There hasn’t been a theater like it in Lewisville since one closed off Business 121 in the 1970s.

So when Fort Worth-based Coyote Drive-In announced plans to open Lewisville location, the community couldn’t get enough of the news. It continues to be one of the most talked about local stories and residents frequently ask The Lewisville Texan Journal for updates.

The opening, which was once planned for late last year, will be postponed again after a series of delays in the planning stages when the theater realized it had space to add a sixth screen, and rain.

Coyote had then planned for a July 1 opening but now won’t be open until early fall, said Glen Soloman, a partner in Coyote Drive-In. No changes have been made to the planned design since Lewisville approved $306,500 of incentives in February; and work was moving on schedule since the company broke ground in January, before recent rains.

“Nobody is more sorry about the delay than we are,” Soloman said. “But when the long-anticipated location finally opens, it will be worth the wait.”

Soloman said significant progress will be seen in the next coming weeks as the weather forecast shifts.

Lewisville resident Todd Simpson, 36, said he loved going to theaters like it when he was younger.

“I absolutely would go and I understand it’s very difficult to build things when we’re getting the type of rain we’ve been getting,” he said.

Simpson said that next summer, when Coyote Drive-In is open, Texans won’t have to worry about the summer heat like they did.

“When we think of drive-ins, we think of the old days of having to roll down the windows,” he said. Coyote Drive-In uses special FM radio frequencies to which guests tune their car’s radio, so “there is never going to be an issue with the heat,” he said.

Lewisville resident Sallie Burris, 62, said that when she was dating in high school, she used to catch films at the Rebel Twin Drive-In off Belt Line in Carrollton. By the time the previous Lewisville theater opened, she was a young married woman with a baby daughter.

“We would load our Volkswagen bus with bottles, diapers and baby food and go to the movies,” she said. “Now I want my grandchildren to experience the drive-in movie. I am sure they’ve come a long way since then.”

Flower Mound resident Nicole Webb, 23, who is currently in school in Washington D.C., said she’s never been to a drive-in theater.

“Me and my friends in high school always wanted to. We never got around to it because all the ones open then were too far away,” she said. “I’d love to go when I’m in town next.”

Some residents had suggestions for Coyote before they open.

“We honestly don’t go to movies, but if there were a decent family film we would consider it,” Lewisville resident Kari Simpkins, 53. “I don’t care for any sort of violence or foul language. I would love to see some of the recent Christian movies shown there.”

Coyote opened its second location in Birmingham, Alabama, at the start of May. Until the new cinema opens in Lewisville, residents looking to catch flicks from the comfort of their car can head to the company’s original Panther Island location in Fort Worth.

Construction begins on Lewisville's Coyote Drive-In theater.(Photo by Adam Schrader)

City grants $306,500 in economic incentives to Coyote Drive In

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Published in The Lewisville Texan Journal on Feb. 18, 2016

The City of Lewisville passed an economic development agreement, granting $306,500 in incentives to Coyote Drive In, at its Feb. 15 meeting.

Coyote Drive In will include six outdoor screens centered by a 10,000 square foot climate-controlled cantina, a shaded outdoor pavilion, and a 14,000 square foot mini-golf area and a kids play area.

Nika Reinecke, Director of Economic Development and Planning, wrote a letter to City Manager Donna Barron on why the city should approve the economic development agreement.

“As part of the agreement, Coyote will allow the city to use its property for parking purposes for certain city events,” she wrote. “They will also promote city events by projecting city-provided advertisements on all theater screens before each movie.”

The Fort Worth-based company is projected to create 80 permanent jobs and invest $9.8 million in the drive in theater, according to the agreement. Coyote will sponsor an annual hoteliers meeting or a city event at the facility at a cost not to exceed $1,000 annually.

“That property was always going to be difficult to develop,” said council member TJ Gilmore. “This was a great way to get a unique amenity and bring additional tax revenues to the city.”

In return, the city will waive the Coyote’s roadway escrow fee for Midway Road estimated at $247,000, issue a grant equal to the amount of fees paid for water and sanitary sewer impact fees estimated at $43,054, and reimburse all other fees paid to the city up to the total amount.

James Kunke, a spokesman for Lewisville, explained the roadway escrow fee waiver.

“Coyote will need a turn lane on Midway to pull traffic off the road into their facility, otherwise cars will back up onto the road and block traffic,” Kunke said. “But, we’re going to rebuild Midway Road and widen it. So it would be wasteful for them to build it now.”

Coyote will have to pay the city to build that turn lane, which will be included when the city rebuilds the road. But, the city is waiving the fee for the widening of Midway road which the city had already budgeted for.

The agreement ends on Dec. 30, 2026, unless renewed in writing by both parties. The developer will complete property improvements within 18 months. More time may be granted if, in the city’s opinion, Coyote has made substantial progress on construction and property improvements.

“Coyote Drive In brings a new regional entertainment choice for Southern Denton County,” Kunke said. “We are thrilled they chose Lewisville and think they have a lot to bring to our community and we want to support their success.”

barbecue, flower mound, ribs, cooking

Couple opens barbecue joint in Lewisville catering to public safety officers

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Published in The Dallas Morning News on Oct. 9, 2014

Badgers BBQ, a new restaurant in Lewisville, has a mission.

Owners Emilee and Erich Klein serve family-style barbecue, but they also want to use their restaurant to honor “the badge”: law enforcement, firefighters and soldiers in the community.

Hence the name Badgers.

The restaurant opened in August and had its grand opening last Saturday.

Emilee runs the restaurant with Erich’s help. He is a full-time federal law enforcement officer.

Starting out

Erich, 43, has been with a federal agency in the area for almost seven years. He chose not disclose which agency.

When he was 16, he snagged his first job in law enforcement as a cadet at a California police department. At 21, he received his California police officer certification. He moved to Texas in 1999 and received his new certification in 2001.

“I decided not to pursue it for various reasons,” he said. “An opportunity rose up to get with my agency now, and here I am.”

Emilee, 43, has been in retail management since high school. After moving to Texas, she took a short break to blend the couple’s families before returning to work as a general manager for a fast-food chain.

The Kleins talked about opening their own place for years. Finally, they decided to stop talking and do it. Emilee left her job to start planning the new venture in December of 2013.

They shopped for space, but none felt right. One day, their insurance agent called to tell them the restaurant next to her office was going out of business.

The location on Lewisville’s Main Street, just east of Flower Mound, fit. It’s close to Lewisville and Flower Mound police stations. Attracting law officers to dine with them is part of their business plan.

“The landlords were open to everything. They were really trying to work with us,” Emilee said. “It was time, and everything fell into place, so here we are.”

Erich said they couldn’t have done it without support and input from his friends and co-workers. The Kleins said their two 15-year-old daughters Danielle and Shelly, who are in ROTC, and Lilly, 10, were instrumental in their success.

“They’ve really stepped up and helped put in sinks, scrub nastiness off the floor before we moved in,” Emilee said. “They learned how to cook barbecue and are our primary waitstaff.”

The Kleins suffered hiccups on the road to completion. Renovating the space was difficult and money was short. They feared failing to meet their deadline for opening.

“Because of a significant loss of money and having to pay someone to come back in and rebuild, we had to open very quickly,” Emilee said. “So we were not able to decorate like we wanted to, but we’re getting there.”

In the end, they orchestrated a successful opening with assistance from Helping Our Heroes in Lewisville.

Helping Our Heroes

Lewisville Helping its Heroes was formed by a group of friends who decided to help a military family in need. Their goal is to formally incorporate as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. And they are raising money to get that done.

The Kleins came across the group on Facebook as they were scheduling Badgers’ grand opening.

“Michelle, one of the officers of the organization, came in, sat down and talked to us about how we can have a mutually beneficial relationship,” Erich said.

Lewisville Helping its Heroes board member is a carpenter. He helped with the restaurant renovations. Then, in return, Badgers let Heroes use its banquet space to pass out fliers and information about their mission during the grand opening.

“They [Helping Our Heroes] have been wonderful and believe in the same things we believe in,” Erich said.

Among the scheduled events for last Saturday’s grand opening was a raffle with proceeds going to the Heroes group.

Honoring the badge

The main dining room had not been fully decorated for the grand opening, but the Kleins decided to walk their guests through the planned decor so they could envision how it might look when finished.

A vinyl blue sign decorated with police shoulder patches from around the world greets customers as they enter Badgers. Soon, a red sign with firefighter patches will decorate another wall.

On the back wall, the Kleins will hang printings of the police officer’s prayer, the firefighter’s prayer, the soldiers’ prayer and the EMT prayer. They also plan to commission a mural dedicated to fallen heroes. A formally set table underneath the mural will always remain empty to remind guests of fallen soldiers who are not forgotten. Emilee said sugar and lemon on the table symbolize the bitter-sweetness of their sacrifice.

“When my customers come into my building, I want them to feel that overwhelming sense of pride that this is their country,” Emilee said. “People fight for their freedom to safely come to restaurants like mine.”

The restaurant also hosts a table reserved for on-duty, uniformed officers and firefighters. Its location allows officers a full view of the restaurant, the entry points and their cars.

Emilee said when the restaurant held a fundraiser for the Lewisville High School baseball team, all the tables were full and people were waiting. One group asked if they could sit at the reserved table.

“I had to tell them ‘no,’ and explained that the table is reserved specifically for on-duty officers. You don’t know when they will get to eat because they are always working. I want to make sure they get fed and have a place to kick back,” she said. “Once I explained that to them, they were like, ‘Absolutely, we will wait.’”

“It’s very cool that I can do that through my restaurant,” she said.

Fracking the Bakken Formation in North Dakota (Photo by Joshua Doubek used under Creative Commons)

Smitherman asks city officials not to approve ban on fracking in letter

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Published in the Denton Record-Chronicle on July 11, 2014

Barry T. Smitherman, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, has asked Denton city officials not to approve a ban on hydraulic fracturing within city limits.

Denton City Manager George Campbell, Mayor Chris Watts and members of the council all received Smitherman’s letter Friday. He also asked in the letter that his comments be read at a public hearing on the fracking ban proposal during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Under the city charter, the council must hold a public hearing on an initiative petition before taking a vote on the matter. A group of Denton residents organized the initiative in the spring, delivering the signatures of nearly 2,000 registered voters supporting the ban. If the council passes the ban Tuesday, Denton would be the first city in Texas to ban fracking inside its city limits.

Denton sits on the state’s largest onshore natural gas field, the Barnett Shale, and to access this natural gas, companies use fracking.

“Natural gas production in America has also soared because of hydraulic fracturing,” Smitherman wrote.

The Texas Railroad Commission regulates oil and gas drilling, and Smitherman’s letter stressed the importance for drilling in Denton.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Texas was the leading crude oil-producing state in the nation in 2013 and exceeded production levels from federal offshore areas. Texas accounted for about 29 percent of U.S. marketed natural gas production in 2013, making it the leading natural gas producer among the states.

Smitherman wrote that a ban on fracking is “a ban on oil and gas drilling, one of the key pillars of our Texas economy.”

Staff writer Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe contributed to this report.