It was 1952, and a young enlistee on weekend leave from the Fort Worth Air Force base spotted a big man wearing cowboy boots standing in the middle of a construction site’s freshly hardened foundation.

 A quick “holler” earned the soldier an offer of part-time work, and eventually led to a lifelong career in the restaurant business.

The booted man was Jimmy Underwood, who owned and ran cafeterias and down-home eateries throughout the state for decades. Underwood recognized the young man’s responsible and enterprising nature and took him under his wing, teaching him the virtues of “real” Texas barbecue.

The apprentice, Raymond Erwin, wound up overseeing the opening, management and sale of numerous Underwood restaurants. Years later, he took on his own popular neighborhood establishment, Raymond’s Bar-B-Q, known for its slogan – “Smoked All Night For a Taste Just Right.”

The outgoing Erwin is known on sight by most of his loyal customers, and he enjoys hosting community meetings, catering numerous corporate events and helping people “plan parties.”

He’s served everyone from the area Kiwanis to guests at the LBJ ranch in Austin. In addition to his authentic barbecue and chilil beans, Raymond’s offers other meats and an unusually large selection of country-style vegetables, salads and desserts – and even 85-cent drinks.

The cafeteria atmosphere is comfortable and pleasant: western art and trailing ivy pepper a pristine dining room (smoke is washed from the walls and floors daily).

Erwin says he’s “fortunate to have a good reputation, make a fair living and do what he can for the community.”

RAYMOND’S CHILI BEANS

This is the same recipe Raymond has been using since 1957, sized down for home cooking.

2 c. dried kidney beans

(Raymond uses Colorado Mile High Beans)

5 c. water

½ c. chili powder

¼ c. salt

2 Tbs. black pepper

1 tsp. Vegetable shortening

Dash of cayenne pepper to taste

Soak the beans overnight in water in a large pot. Then bring the beans to a boil, add the shortening and wait until it melts. Stir, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until soft (about two hours), adding water if necessary (keeping about ¼ inch of water above the bean level). Add spices, cook another five minutes. For best taste, let the beans sit 45 minutes to an hour to let the spices soak in.