Back by popular demand: West Texas-style BBQ joint extends storefront operations

LEMON GROVE, Calif. (FOX 5/KUSI) — After announcing what they thought would be their last weekend as a restaurant, the owners of a beloved West Texas-style barbecue joint in East County said they will remain open amid popular demand.

Bradick Cooper, owner of Coop’s West Texas BBQ, said since he made the announcement last Tuesday that he was closing his business, people from all over San Diego County have been waiting in line to dine at his restaurant.

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The pitmaster at Coop’s BBQ in Lemon Grove will continue firing up the smoker on the weekends for the next few months.

“When people started hearing about us closing, it was such an outpouring of love that it literally brought tears to my eyes when I came out here and saw the line all the way to the street,” said Cooper.

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Cooper fell in love with BBQ years ago while visiting his father in Texas.

“He had a beast of a BBQ pit. I’d never seen one like it before. We’d fire it up and put ribs and brisket on there. It was like the sound of fire was calling my name,” said Cooper.

Cooper was a registered nurse before he opened his BBQ restaurant and pursued a new dream. But after COVID-19, financial troubles have plagued the business.

“2023 was our slowest year ever. Coming into 2024 it wasn’t looking better,” added Cooper. “It got to a point where I was worrying how I was going to pay my bills, pay my employees. How will I keep the lights on, even at my home. We weren’t making any money.”

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When news of his closing spread, people immediately began visiting the restaurant and since it’s been the busiest period yet. People from Point Loma, Scripps Ranch and San Carlos have been coming to order and help support the business.

“Let me tell you, where else are you going to find it? I’ve tried BBQ all over the county. North County, East County, South County and out West. This is good, good food,” said Cathy LaSota.

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“We are from Virginia and we’re particular about our BBQ and they have it. So, here we are,” said Susie Bradley of Point Loma.

The Coopers had planned to permanently close their doors last weekend after seeing a major decline in business over the past few years amid the pandemic.

After seeing an immense turnout from the community on what was supposed to be their final days, Coop’s BBQ has decided to remain open on the weekends for as long as they can.

“We flipped the script! With the support and encouragement of our community, we have decided to open the restaurant Friday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or when we sell out!”  owners Brad and Tara Cooper stated on Instagram Sunday.

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This news may come as a relief for those who still wish to indulge in the brand’s meaty goodness. Their legacy of barbecuing pork ribs, beef brisket, jerk chicken and more is sure to continue on moving forward.

Brad Cooper
Brad Cooper

When the time does come for the restaurant to close its doors, the Coopers plan to shift their focus to catering and pop-up events throughout San Diego County.

“We want to continue to serve you San Diego but we need your support,” said the Coop’s BBQ owners. “I’m truly blessed to be doing this.”

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