barbecue, police, lewisville

Badgers BBQ closes shop

Published in The Denton Record-Chronicle on May 20, 2015

Badgers BBQ, a Lewisville restaurant, opened last August–with a grand opening on Saturday, Oct. 4. However, the family-owned restaurant recently closed its doors, according to a post on the BBQ joint’s Facebook page.

Badgers, owned by Emilee and Erich Klein, served 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 has received mixed reviews on the Facebook groups Flower Mound Cares and Lewisville, TX-Community Blabber.

“Badgers is decent, nothing spectacular. Definitely try Fat Cow next time, best BBQ in Denton County last 2 years running,” one user wrote in the latter Facebook group.

Lisa Strickler, another user of the group, wrote that the Kleins were struggling to stay open because the landlord for the property left a plumbing problem for two months, killing their business.

“He just recently fixed it and they have put everything they had into this business,” she wrote. “Pray for them to overcome a bad landlord and people not understanding, for all the good work they have done not to go away. Good people, excellent food in mass quantity.”

Erich Klein only said the building was incompatible with their needs. So he is looking for a new location.

Until the Kleins reopen elsewhere, send them a message on Facebook for ordering barbecue.

Serving Denton County, Our Daily Bread aims to feed the working poor

Published in The Dallas Morning News on Nov. 25, 2015

Denton soup kitchen Our Daily Bread has always catered to the homeless. Now, it’s six weeks into a Monday night dinner program that helps another group in need — the working poor.

“Monday night dinners are absolutely needed here,” said Myles Wood, 28, who started volunteering in 2013 and was hired by Our Daily Bread in April. “The only other place you can consistently get dinner is the Salvation Army, and they’re very limited on space.”

Dinners, which can accommodate at least 120 people at one time, start at 5:30 p.m. every Monday at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 300 W. Oak St. in Denton.


“It’s a big undertaking, especially since we’re already established for lunches,” Wood said. “But it’s a need and would help a whole lot of people in the community.”

Our Daily Bread is one of 23 agencies selected to receive funds from The Dallas Morning News Charities this year.

In 2004, everything Frank Hurst owned was stolen, including his clothes. Though Hurst, 79, is not homeless, he never fully recovered from the financial blow, he said.

“I had no place to go and no money, but I found out I could get a free meal from Our Daily Bread,” Hurst said. “They even helped me get cataract surgery. I’ve always been grateful for that.”

Hurst said he would like to see the program expanded to add Wednesday and Friday.

“It would make a real big difference for me if it was,” he said.

Rick Holliman, executive director of Our Daily Bread, said the program started with a popular picnic table for day laborers at the corner of Fort Worth and Eagle drives.

“A board member thought they might not eat at Our Daily Bread because they may lose an opportunity to make a living,” Holliman said. “We wanted to find a way to reach out to them without the large investment of a mobile food pantry.”

Our Daily Bread also wanted to further support The Wheeler House, a group home for single working mothers.

“They don’t have an opportunity to eat with us, either,” Holliman said. “So it would really help them if they didn’t have to pay for a meal for their families.”

Our Daily Bread serves about 355 meals on Monday nights, counting second helpings. Most people who attend also eat lunch there during the day, Holliman said.

The organization advertises the dinners through bilingual fliers distributed at schools, libraries, churches and other charitable organizations.

“The fliers don’t just say that we’re having a free dinner,” Holliman said. “They say, ‘Our family invites your family to have a meal with us.’ That way it sounds more like families getting together for a Sunday dinner than a need-based program.”

Our Daily Bread also partners with the Denton Community Food Center to deliver food to students in Denton ISD. The North Texas Food Bank delivers food to the Denton Target Distribution Center, where volunteers sort food before delivering it to children at local elementary schools.

“The food is in backpacks, so it’s not obvious that [the recipients are] in need,” Holliman said. “We also put a flier in the backpacks advertising our Monday night meals.”

Holliman said the dinners might not hit their intended demographic because of fear.

“Some of the working poor are too proud to get help because they don’t want to be affiliated with the stigma of the homeless, drug-addicted ex-convicts and the mentally ill that we also serve,” he said.

He tries to make it a comfortable environment by providing separate tables for families — crayons and coloring books included. Some play the standup piano tucked into the back corner or bluegrass tunes on the mandolin.

“It’s hectic and chaotic around here at lunch, but it’s a real relaxed and pleasant atmosphere in the evenings, almost like a social event,” Holliman said.

He said the volunteers almost act like waiters refilling drinks at their tables.

In the daytime, volunteers who prepare the food also serve it, working from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The dinner preparation crews volunteer from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. before dinner servers arrive at 5:15 p.m., working until 7 p.m.

“We have noticed an increase in new volunteers, particularly college students from both universities,” said Holliman, referring to UNT and TWU. “They’re ecstatic about being here, and some have signed up to volunteer through the end of the year.”

The dinners make Our Daily Bread unique because they feed a section of the community that doesn’t receive much assistance, Holliman said.

“Many people don’t know there’s this class of people who may have a home and job but still need help,” he said.

The organization is also unique because while many of the volunteers are students, so are many of the guests.

“We found out that there are 600 homeless students in Denton ISD and that Denton universities enroll a number of homeless students,” Holliman said. “We need to help those kids to eat, too, as they’re going through school. Just because you’re a student doesn’t mean you have a silver spoon in your mouth.”

The only people Holliman said he’ll turn away are previous guests who brought drugs, alcohol, weapons or violence on the premises.

“People have to come to us, but our door is closed to nobody,” Holliman said. “We don’t care if they’re from Dallas or Houston. We don’t care if they’re Christian, atheist or Muslim. We don’t care if they’re straight or gay. We don’t care if they’re transgender. We care if they’re hungry.”

barbecue, flower mound, ribs, cooking

Couple opens barbecue joint in Lewisville catering to public safety officers

News Stories Archive

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.