This was the scene at Otto’s this past Saturday afternoon, around 11:45 am. Not exactly as I expected, given that old friends and patrons only have a short — albeit indeterminate — amount of time left to eat there before it’s closed for good.
Strangely, when I checked back to re-read my original entry on Otto’s upcoming closing, the link to the Houston Chronicle story I’d referenced was no longer working. Even better, their “search” function comes up with absolutely no articles for Otto’s or Otto Sofka or any other combination of “Otto’s” and “barbeque” and “hamburgers” that I could come up with. I mean, I’m not surprised — the Chronicle‘s archive and search features are a bit of a laughingstock — but I was still irritated.
To that end, here are two new links concerning Otto’s that aren’t broken and which are much more informative than the original Chronicle article was in the first place: Original Otto’s barbeque up for sale and Family sale signals farewell to Otto’s.
My father and hubby and I were in the mood for barbeque on Saturday and had originally intended on trying out the new Monica Pope joint, Beaver’s. However, after driving down to the little ice house off Washington and, in the process, getting hit by a car who was broadsided by an 18-wheeler, both of whom peeled off as fast as they could (true story…but we’re all fine and I’m glad we were in my Sherman tank of a Volvo at the time), we were heavily disappointed to find it closed for lunch.
Having done research before embarking on our Beaver’s journey — hitting up Beaver’s website, www.b4-u-eat.com, Citysearch and Alison Cook’s blog — I knew what I wanted to eat before we even set foot out the door. What I did not know, however, were the hours of operation, because they weren’t listed at all on Beaver’s website or on any other place that I checked (that said, the only place I’ve found so far with operating hours for Beaver’s is Dai Huyhn’s article, where it’s ambiguously stated that lunch service will begin in mid-January).
Was I stupid to assume that a brand-new barbeque place would be open for lunch on a Saturday? I suppose so, since we were greeted by an empty parking lot and a paper sign on the door with the business hours. To quote Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer, it was “information that could have been useful to me yesterday.”
Geez, Ms. Pope. Is it too much to at least post the hours of operation on Beaver’s website? That’s all I’m saying…
Anyway, it worked out for the best, as we all decided to visit Otto’s for one last time as a group. After we walked into the barbeque entrance, my father stood still and took a deep breath. Looking around fondly, he said, “That’s the smell of a lifetime of barbeque. Can’t beat it.”
My father and husband ordered their Bush plates and they worked their way through them as I slowly enjoyed my links covered with onions and pickles. The dining room was vacant save for an older man, who seemed to be a semi-permanent fixture. All of the women manning the barbeque counter knew him, as did all of the busboys. He sat perfectly content with his plate of ribs, his cowboy hat perched on the table next to him and his eyes staring off into space as he dined.
Was he thinking about Otto’s closing? Was he contemplating all the meals he’d had there, the accumulation of which eventually led to his camaraderie with all of the various restaurant staff? Was he trying to figure out exactly how many root beers and ribs he’d had over the course of his friendship with Otto’s?
Whether he was thinking about these things or not, I was. I watched him and wondered where he’ll go when Otto’s is gone.