June 3, 2013
The phone rang. “Mr. Vaughn, this is the Parker County Sheriff’s office.” There wasn’t actually an officer at the other end of the line. It was Big Jim McLennan calling, the pitmaster at Hashknife on the Chisholm in Peadenville, Texas. He has always been good at making jokes, but it was refreshing that he was in good spirits. The day prior to this call was the final day in business for his beloved barbecue joint about eight miles north of Mineral Wells. “It was the hardest decision of my life,” Jim said with a heavy sigh. “I’m in here getting this baby cleaned up and crying at the same time.”
Photo by Nicholas McWhirter.
Along with having the best name in barbecue, Hashknife on the Chisholm has also been celebrated for their smoked meats. Texas Monthly placed them in the Top 50 barbecue joints in the state in 2008 and again in 2013. Running a barbecue joint always comes with challenges, but the McLennans recently reached their breaking point. Both Jim and his wife Lesa are in poor health. He got a new hip last year, and Lesa had some recurring issues that flared up again last week. Jim is a man who loves to cook, but he says “We’re not gonna kill ourselves for a restaurant.” The decision to close came on Friday and the final day was this past Saturday. Jim remarked on the restaurant’s remote location, saying “I made it out here for eight years which is seven years longer than anybody else.” There’s no shame in that.
All the Meats at Hashknife on the Chisholm. Photo by Nicholas McWhirter.
Big Jim hasn’t called it quits completely. He and Lesa will still cater in the surrounding oil fields, but that will be limited to two days a week. The restaurant itself is now cleaned up and ready for a new owner. If you like country life, there’s a successful business for sale about an hour west of Fort Worth. Just remember, the barbecue business isn’t easy. Now there are 49.