Restaurant Revisited: In the Pits at Bryan’s Smokehouse

by in Shows, May 26th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleAlthough Bryan’s Smokehouse in Lufkin, Texas, was a once-thriving eatery, it had fallen on hard times. Longtime owner Lynn Bryan struggled to keep up with new nearby barbecue spots, ultimately falling into debt. She looked to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team not just to improve her meat-focused menu, but to help her manage her employees more professionally and efficiently. Not one to shy away from any challenge, Robert rose to the occasion, and with only a $10,000 budget and two days to work, he revitalized both the interior of Bryan’s and the core of its management, all in an effort to give the eatery the second chance it deserves. FN Dish checked in with Lynn a few months after the transformation to find out how the restaurant is doing today.

Immediately after filming, Lynn says business “was booming,” and while it’s since slowed down, she’s hopeful that it will pick up now that the show has aired. She adds that she’s pleased with the new design of the space, as well as with the changes to the menu. “We have kept everything the same and just added a couple of the old things back. Just a couple, let me stress,” she explains.

She’s once again in charge of the restaurant, adding that Bobby no longer works at Bryan’s. “I have taken back over and [am] ready to run,” she tells FN Dish. “I have all new crew.” Taking Robert’s team’s advice to heart, Lynn confirms that her employees are “all trained.”

To the Restaurant: Impossible team that made the renovation possible, she says, “Y’all gave me enough for a lifetime, so a big thanks to all of you.”

Bryan's Smokehouse

Bryan’s Smokehouse before the renovation

Bryan's Smokehouse

Bryan’s Smokehouse after the renovation

Bryan's Smokehouse

Bryan’s Smokehouse after the renovation

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant (May 19)
Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant (May 12)
Smitty’s Restaurant (April 28)
Old World Italian Restaurant (April 21)
Joe Willy’s Seafood House (April 14)
Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering (March 24)
Soup to Nuts Diner (March 17)
Caseyville Cafe (March 13)
Maniaci’s Italian Restaurant (March 10)
Dinner Bell Restaurant (February 27)
Nanny Goat’s Cafe & Feed Bin (February 20)
Sapori D’Italia (January 23)
Windseeker Restaurant (January 16)
Whiskey Creek Steakhouse (January 2)
Rising Sun Bistro (December 19)
Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri (December 9)
Bronk’s Bar and Grill (December 5)
Rohrer’s Tavern (November 28)
Poco’s on the Boulevard (November 21)
Oleander Bar and Grill (October 17)
Valley Inn (October 10)
Whistle Stop (October 3)
The Maple Tree Cafe (September 26)
Michele’s (September 19)
Paliani’s Restaurant (September 12)
Frankie’s (September 5)
Gusanoz (August 29)

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Comments (83)

  1. Bootsdaddy says:

    Lynn on a blog:

    Lynn Marie Bryan • a day ago

    Seem to be some X employees posting some bad reviews which is funny ,X staff means they was fired for a reason mostly theifs , trash , drug users , or just dont have a pot to pee in So consider the sorce So any way we are so blessed to have had the show come and visit us , We have been booming new place new food and all new well qulified and trained staff and we will forget the past and looking forward to the new blessings !!! God is good even on bad days looking forward to meeting you at Bryan's Smokehouse

    Obviously if anyone has anything bad to say it must be an X (ex?) employee.

  2. Curtis Steinhour says:

    I noticed what I thought was a bowl of chilli, but I saw what I thought was beans. There is a saying in Texas that 'If you know beans about chilli you know it ain't got any'.

    • Amanda says:

      True, we know about chili in Texas, but I think that beans or no beans is a preference rather than an indication of authenticity. My husband and I have won several chili cook-offs and we use three different kinds of beans in our chili. But venison is by far the preferred meat.

  3. Pink Lemonade says:

    Robert truly does not know what he's talking about regarding hickory.

    • PaulHikeS2 says:

      You're correct. I was cringing at Robert trying to pretend he was an expert at barbeque. He does know food, and I love his shows, but BBQ is just a different animal. Thankfully, it looks like he left this sorry place in better shape than when he found it.

    • Chris says:

      I agree with you. Any wood that is used too much or too long with embitter the food, Hickory is a nut, just like pecan. Mesquite is popular is Texas, but you can get a bitter taste with it much quicker than hickory. You cannot just thumb your nose at hickory's traditional usage as the foundation of barbecue for well over 200 years in the US. I'm glad they got excellent results with pecan wood, BUT hickory was not the problem.

  4. Diana says:

    What happened to Robert? He is not himself. I want the old Robert back. Start screaming and get after people. Why is your designer screaming and cussing? She needs to stop! You are the boss!

  5. @SteveJax says:

    Just got done watching the episode and was thinking of driving up from Houston to try out those rated 9 Ribs til I read all these reviews!

  6. Jeri says:

    Ate at Bryan's Smokehouse today, b/c the show aired last night & my family in Alabama saw the show, knew we were going through Lufkin today, & told us to try it. Very glad we did – delicious! We're from Alabama, but I hope we get to visit again sometime! Enjoyed meeting the "new crew" and owner! :)

  7. Gwenn says:

    I liked the show and the cow situation was actually comical! I could tell by Roberts demeanor that he did not care for Lynn. As nor did I. She was too high strung and to have abandon her place of work for many years tells you of her work ethic, which will only repeat itself. Once again, you see people JUMP into the restaurant industry with no prior knowledge and think that they are going to make it big and that it is something fun that they can do. It's a 24/7 job with no end and a huge financial risk. I hope she does well and takes everything Robert and the staff gave her seriously, because if she does not (which I picked up from some of the previous posts) she will FAIL!!!!

  8. Jason says:

    When I was a child back in the 70's and early 80's whenever our family made its weekly trip to Lufkin we ate at what was then "The Wagon Wheel" and is now known as Bryan's Smokehouse. Back in my younger days this was such a cool place. Even had sawdust on the floor of the dining room. As a teenager our family moved away from the area, and when I came back to Lufkin in the late 90's the "Wagon Wheel" and that cow were still there (the cow used to rotate keeping a close watch on Timberland Drive), the cow no longer rotated, and quite frankly the food wasn't quite as good as I remembered, but still not bad.

    The Bryan's took over while I was still in Lufkin, and my boss used to get BBQ from them and from Stringer's for store parties, etc. Bryan's meat was actually, back then, more tasty than Stringer's, but it was a little too tough. Bryan's will never compete with Stringer's for popularity in Lufkin, it just won't happen; however, there has got to be a reason the "Wagon Wheel" was around as long as it was and it has hung on as Bryan's for 15 years until this point. Most likely if they'd go back to the way the old "Wagon Wheel" did it, sans the sawdust on the floor, they would be successful and at least give a good alternative to chains like Dickey's and established joints like Stringer's.

    PS: You do owe it to yourself, even if you're a Bryan's or other joint fan to go to Stringers and get some of those fried yeast rolls. I'd like one right now, but Lufkin's a four hour trip from where I am now.

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