"We were betting on the future, which was delayed," Onstead said. "It was a struggle in the beginning."
When he first opened in 1973, Onstead said business was slow because plans for a subdivision across the street from his property fell through, and the exceedingly underdeveloped area made it difficult to bring in customers.
This coupled with the fire that burned down his original building a year after opening discouraged Onstead. However, with patience, the help of the community and the development of Pecan Grove, his restaurant came back to life.
"It was a starving moment for a couple of years, but it started evolving and all of a sudden caught on," he said.
The Texas-style barbecue family-friendly restaurant serves pecan-smoked brisket, ribs, chicken and sausage, with homemade sides, such as green beans and coleslaw. For 26 years, a back room served as a dancing hall for locals, and now it is used for weddings and other events.
Onstead said he is not sure of what will become of his legacy, but he thinks the Swinging Door will stick around for years to come.
"I've got plenty of pride in what we do and what we've done and what we continue to try to do here," Onstead said. "I don't have as much pep as I used to when I was 25 years old-I've got a lot of miles. But I can still run with the big dogs."
This story appears courtesy our news partners at Community Impact Newspaper.
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