His son, William Jennings Bryan, better known as Red, opened his own location in 1930 called The Tin Shack, according to the restaurant. Red’s only son, William Jennings Bryan Jr., grew up working there.
Nicknamed Sonny, he decided to put his own name on a new Dallas location, and in 1958 Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse was born.
The restaurant is known for its style of cooking untrimmed meat with the lean side down.
A few months before his death in 1989, Sonny sold the business to the Harman family. Walker Harman assumed the role of chairman and hired his son, Brent, as president. Both are active today across four Dallas area locations.
JT Todd is the general manager of the Richardson location. He started working at Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse in 1996 and was part of the team that opened the Richardson location in 1998.
“Working for good people while enjoying a balanced work schedule is what keeps me here,” he said. “The work is never mundane, and I meet great customers all the time.”
Todd said that most of the Richardson team has been on staff for 20-plus years. That includes Monica Gonzalez, the restaurant’s meat cutter, catering manager Kyle Juergens, cook Aluard Granjeno and cashier Carl Lichtenberger.
The restaurant serves a variety of meats, including pork, pulled chicken, sausage, ribs and two types of brisket.
Other favorite dishes include stuffed baked potatoes, onion rings, hickory smoked wings and Frito pie.
Todd attributes the restaurant’s popularity to never losing sight of quality in the food, including its barbecue sauce—a recipe that is a closely guarded secret.
“Our famous sauce is a mixture of basic ingredients, but it’s the balance and quantity of these that make it special,” Todd said.
Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse
1251 W. Campbell Road, Ste. 240, Richardson
Hours: Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.