ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – When you’re hungry, just about any place will do. But when you’re looking for a hometown experience like no other, no two eateries quite stack up to the Dixie Pig and Farolito Restaurant.
In 1931, the pork sandwich stand that would later become the Dixie Pig was established on the corner of Butternut and South 14th Streets. More out of necessity than anything else, according to the restaurant’s current owner/operator, Barbara Bradshaw.
“There was a dairy across the street called Banner, and the man that owned it was Mr. Dillinigham,” Bradshaw recorded. “He built a little stand over here on the corner for his guys to have somewhere to eat.”
Back then, Butternut was just a dirt road. South 14th Street was, essentially, the edge of town. So, if you wanted good food you had to drive a few miles out.
The Dixie Pig, though, wouldn’t officially be established for a few more months. Mr. Dillinigham later sold the stand to Mr. Charles Langford.
“He kept it with the little stand for a while… And then he changed it up, like in the late ’30s he fixed it up,” said Bradshaw.
For 50 years the Pig grew under the care and management of the Langfords. In his advanced age, Mr. Langford looked into adding some new blood into his now-established diner.
Though not the first to lease the establishment, Jerri Armstrong would prove to be the most influential owner of the Pig in 1981. She did so by employing the help of her Daughter-in-Law, Barbara Bradshaw.
“She said, ‘I’m bored,’ and I said, ‘well, go to Vegas, lose your money, do something- leave me alone.’ She said, ‘nope, we’re going to lease the Dixie Pig,'” Bradshaw recounted.
The idea didn’t initially pull her in, though:
“I hadn’t heard from her in a while, so I thought, ‘oh good, I dodged that bullet.’ Then one day, here she comes into my office, throws her keys on the table and she says, ‘give your notice, we got it.’ I started crying that day.”
Bradshaw would eventually take full ownership of the Pig after her mother-in-law’s passing. She would continue that strong family-owned aesthetic through the next 41 years.
“I’ve worked [with] my granddaughters, my daughter, and now I’ve got a great granddaughter who’s learning to register on Saturday. She’s 10,” Bradshaw bragged.
This generational pride could only be rivaled by one other Abilene establishment: Farolito.
“It can be stressful, but it’s very rewarding. I love coming to work every day,” third generation owner/operator of Farolito Restaurant, Mark Herrera, said.
Mark took over for his father about nine years ago. The spot was established in 1936 by his grandparents, Cristoval and Barbara Herrera.
“They were very hands-on… They worked very hard,” Herrera said. “My grandfather was a pastry chef and my grandmother was the cook.”
Not content with sticking to food alone, his grandparents opened “Farolito’s Club” in the late 1960s to early 1970s. What made the spot stand out was its alcohol sales, as Taylor county was dry at the time.
“It was a happening spot,” Herrera testified. “You’d buy a year membership and you were able to come through the back door and have your drinks.”
The club would close soon after the town voted alcohol in. But the recipes remained the same, passed down by teaching for three generations.
“It’s still the same recipes… They’re not written down anywhere. It’s all up here,” Herrera assured.
Even so, it was the next decade which would hold the greatest changes for these Abilene landmarks.
How long could Farolito remain in business?
“I’m going to try to make 100 years. After me, I don’t know if it’s going to continue,” Herrera said.
The same issue is on Bradshaw’s mind as she considers the future of the Dixie Pig.
“I think if I ever do decide to sell it, it would be not as The Pig,” Bradshaw said. “It just means too much to me. I’d want it to stay in the family.”
Though many customers might shun the thought of either restaurant closing:
“I just can’t imagine Butternut street without the Dixie Pig… I cant.” longtime Dixie Pig diner Aaron Waldrop told KTAB/KRBC.
The owners know just how much their establishments mean to the people they serve.
“They’re just kind of friends, they’re not business. you know what I mean? We don’t consider them just customers,” Bradshaw described.
Meanwhile Herrera said, “if it wasn’t for the customers, we wouldn’t be here. So its- that means a lot.”