By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–The owner of a favorite barbecue shop has gone to his home in the skies. Tommy Hallett, of Tommy’s Bar-B-Que in Gun Barrel City died Feb. 6, 2015 of complications associated with COPD in a Dallas hospital. He was 74 years old and had spent the last 17 years as a nonsmoker.
According to his staff and children, he leaves more than a legacy of fine barbecue, for which people line up every lunch hour to receive. He left a legacy of faith.
Business manager Vicky Monroy said what she will miss most is the morning coffee hour that centered around prayer.
“Every morning, he’d come in here for his coffee and whenever we (the employees) came in he’d make sure we had our coffee and then he’d lead us in prayer. That’s what I’ll miss most,” she said. “And if an employee came in an hour later, he’d just do it all over again, just for them,” Monroy added.
Nearby, employees on the line chime in their agreement with that statement as they embellish it with how his dog, Jed, wouldn’t be left out, either. The Dachshund got his blessing and coffee too — with cream and sugar. His six-member staff has been with the restaurant from three to 13 years.
Tommy was a generous man, sponsoring numerous youth sports teams over the years since 1997 when he opened Tommy’s in his “semi-retirement.” He was always glad to give back to the community, Monroy said.
Sons Tommy and Leland and daughter Sherry recall the many family holidays celebrated at the restaurant on Thanksgiving and Christmas. “If anyone came by to get food, they were invited to join us in our family celebration,” Sherry said. “He loved to fish for crappie and would fry up a mess of them, inviting others to join in the eating.”
Leland said of his father that he taught him to be self-reliant and a strong and growing individual. “I’ll always look up to him with respect,” he said. Sherry said she will always remember his Christian example of a soft, forgiving heart. Hallett and Debbie have been active members of the Lakeview Assembly of God Church in Seven Points.
Hallett also enjoyed hunting. His trophies are displayed on the walls of Tommy’s Bar-B-Que, along with a host of Western memorabilia and pioneering artifacts.
He poured everything he’d learned about good barbecue and restaurant management into his Gun Barrel City location. He learned it alongside his brother, Don, owner of Soul Man’s BBQ in Pleasant Grove, where Tommy started as a meat carver in 1976. Seventeen years later, he and his wife Debbie, opened their own place on Irving Boulevard and prospered for four years, before selling it and moving to Gun Barrel City where he opened Tommy’s on Old Gun Barrel Lane.
He built an old-fashioned brick barbecue pit where he slow cooked his meats.
Though plans have not yet been formed, family members are confident that the restaurant will continue to operate under its faithful and able staff.
Visitation and a memorial service were set for Tuesday, Feb. 10 at Eubank’s Funeral Home in Mabank.