South Texas barbeque icon burns

March 3, 2011 4:41:41 AM PST
South Texas has lost one of its iconic dining establishments as flames destroyed Joe Cotten's BBQ, a Robstown eatery that has fed presidents, would-be presidents and stars. News reports from the scene say the 6:10 p.m. Wednesday fire quickly engulfed the restaurant on U.S. Highway 77. According to KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, restaurant staff reported hearing pops and crackles inside the restaurant ceiling before smoke and flames began to spread.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports the restaurant dates to 1947 and moved to its most recent spot in 1968. President Lyndon B. Johnson, former Texas Gov. Bill Clements and singer-songwriter Willie Nelson have been among the diners, and founder Joe Cotten was known to visit customers' tables until he died in 1992. Son Cecil Cotten has operated the business since.