During the depression, M.E. Underwood was a struggling butcher in Brady, Texas. With less demand for meat, he began to cook barbecue on the side to make ends meet for his growing family. Originally, he sold his ‘cue door-to-door. This endeavor was successful enough that by the early 40’s, Underwood was able to build a small, roadside, white-frame shack.
Little did he know, it would become the first of a family-run chain of barbecue joints in rural central Texas. When WWII ended, the Underwoods relocated to Brownwood, Texas. There M.E. and one of his sons, Morris, built a barbecue stand on West Commerce Street.
By 1948, the Underwoods had enough capital to expand. Morris, and his older brother Jimmy, began opening stands across West Texas. In 1949 in Lubbock, Texas, the predecessor of our beloved Underwood’s Cafeteria was built out with a dining room expansion. Morris set up a cafeteria line with an expanded menu.
The menu inspiration? Mama, of course! Mama Underwood was an old-fashioned lady who insisted on scratch-cooking for her Dad and their eight sons. Served family-style and fresh, the Underwood’s menu in Lubbock gained popularity. Eventually, Jimmy opened a cafeteria-style dining room in Abilene, further fueling Underwood’s reputation for great food in a family atmosphere.