Bet the House

Owners Cody Smithers and Shawn Eagle will be closing down Bet the House BBQ this weekend. Sunday is the restaurant’s last day.

After 4 1/2 years serving barbecue to Denton, Bet the House BBQ is closing its doors Sunday afternoon.

Bet the House had become a regular at music festivals and barbecue competitions; featuring all the smoky staples Texans love.

Owners Cody Smithers, 39, and Shawn Eagle, 43, funded their barbecue dream through a Kickstarter campaign in 2014, raising $5,780 .

In the years since opening, Bet the House has entered competitions and participated in music festivals, such as Red Dirt BBQ & Music Fest and Smoked BBQ Fest, and has garnered mentions in Texas MonthlyD MagazineThe Best of Texas Barbecue website and The Texas BBQ Posse, to name a few.

Beyond making a name for themselves in the professional world of barbecue, Smithers and Eagle have tried to be as involved as possible in the community that has supported them.

"We did our best to never say 'no' whenever someone approached us about donating whatever," Eagle said.

"Giving gift cards, raffles, whatever we could do, if we could do it, we did it," Smithers added.

When the two friends decided to open up shop in 2014, they saw themselves as filling a barbecue void.

"At the time we opened, there wasn't really any barbecue in Denton," Smithers said. "It was just Rudy's and Metzler's."

Their goal was to bring classic Central Texas barbecue to the hungry people of Denton, and Smithers thinks they succeeded.  

Then why close?

If the restaurant served some of the best barbecue in the state and was embraced by the community, why is it closing? Variants of that questions have been flying at Smithers and Eagle since they announced their decision on Friday via Facebook

"It's just hard to keep up and explain to people why you're closing when everybody loves your food," Smithers said.

The short answer was summed up comically by Smithers: "It's not because I'm making too much money."

The longer answer is a bit more nuanced, but he cited their location on South Elm Street, just five blocks from the Square, as a major problem. Bet the House simply didn't get the kind of foot traffic businesses directly on the Square see every day. 

Smithers also mentioned the struggle of staying "in front of people somehow" through social media and constant appearances. Alongside that, all the unexpected perils familiar to business or homeowners caught up to them eventually.

"We just hit a bunch of bumps real quick," Smithers said.

Despite the obstacles facing business owners, and restaurant owners in particular, Smithers and Eagle hope to get back in the industry soon.

After closing Sunday afternoon, they plan to regroup and look into their options in January. Smithers said they've thought about doing pop-ups at local businesses and surrounding towns, such as Krum and Ponder. 

He indicated that, while not preferable, having a food truck isn't entirely out of the question.

Until then, barbecue lovers can get the last bites of a local fixture from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, or until stock runs out. 

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