New restaurant brings family recipes, curated barbecue to Waco

Terry Black's Barbecue opened its new location at 228 S Eighth St. on April 19. Mesha Mittansala | Photographer

By Kalena Reynolds | Staff Writer

From Austin to Dallas to Lockhart, Terry Black’s Barbecue has been crafting the true definition of Texas barbecue and recently expanded to a Waco location at 228 S Eighth St.

While the restaurant is known for its barbecue, it also offers a selection of sides and desserts in a buffet-style line, including macaroni and cheese, green beans, peach cobbler and mini pecan pie.

Christina Black is one of the three co-owners, alongside her two brothers, Mike and Mark. Christina graduated from Baylor in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in accounting, and she said she always wanted to open a location in Waco due to her deep roots in the city.

“I talked about it for years, like, ‘Let’s open in Waco,’ and my brothers were always looking for bigger markets,” Christina said. “But the more we were traveling back and forth to and from Dallas, I would say it was probably the end of 2021 that my brothers and I started seeing the growth.”

At the end of 2021, the Black siblings began working with a real estate agent in Waco to find a location, and they officially found the property in early 2022.

“It’s been almost two years since we’ve had the property, and we’ve been working with the city on permitting and designing and getting to where we are today,” Christina said.

The restaurant officially opened on April 19, and with the help of general manager Mike Burns, the location has been swarming with customers.

“It was exciting to be able to open in Waco,” Burns said. “It’s a pretty big restaurant. There’s not a lot of places to eat in Waco per se, let alone some really good barbecue places.”

When the Black siblings hired Burns in early February, he lived in Florida and had been in the restaurant business for over 24 years — mainly in high-end dining spots. Burns said he had been looking to move his family back to Texas, and upon finding the job opening at Terry Black’s Barbecue, he felt it was the perfect time to do so.

“As I’m looking for jobs, there’s a couple opportunities that pop up, and there’s one in Texas, and I’m like, ‘Well, wait a second,'” Burns said. “I thought they almost sent it to me by mistake because it was a barbecue place.”

Shortly after receiving the information for the position at Terry Black’s Barbecue, Burns researched the Black siblings and the existing locations throughout Texas. He said he immediately felt that the family aspect of the business was exactly what he was looking for.

“This just felt like it was working for a family-run business,” Burns said. “It seemed like they had done well for themselves by just sticking to their roots, and it was all about hospitality and quality in the product.”

Soon after Burns was officially onboarded, he began recruiting a “pitmaster” and “pit team members” to assist.

“I almost compare [pitmaster] to a chef because it’s not a line cook job,” Burns said. “You can’t just punch in and punch out. Every brisket that you put on that smoker literally has its own personality, because it comes from an animal, and every one’s a different size.”

Burns said the first stage of preparing the meat is trimming it to achieve the right consistency. After that comes the seasoning, and the meat is left to marinate. Following those stages, the pitmaster and pit team members work to achieve the perfect fire temperature to cook the meat for a total of 12 hours.

“‘Pitmaster’ is not a term that we use lightly,” Burns said. “It refers to somebody who is a master of their craft.”

While Terry Black’s Barbecue has mastered its meat, Burns said the restaurant has something for everyone.

“I think we have a wide enough and broad enough menu where it’s not just barbecue, even though you’re going to get some really good barbecue,” Burns said. “But [it’s] easy casual eating. You got mac and cheese and pinto beans, but we also got coleslaw, potato salad and banana pudding for dessert. … Kids are going to enjoy it. Adults are going to enjoy it.”

Kalena Reynolds is a sophomore Journalism major from Phoenix, AZ with minors in art history and media management. In her first semester at the Lariat, she is excited to meet new people and continue her love for writing and story telling. Aside from writing, Kalena is also on the equestrian team at Baylor and has a deep love for music and songwriting. After graduation, she plans to go into the music industry.