by VERONICA GORDON
Milt’s Pit BBQ in Kyle is on the move, and customers who have seen the for-rent sign and wondered if the popular restaurant was leaving can relax, say owners Milt Thurlkill and Bunnie Walling.
“I didn’t realize moving would get so much attention,” Thurlkill said.
Milt’s has been at its frontage road location at Old Highway 81 for five years and will soon be at its new home on Center Street, where Hitters Bar and Grill used to be located. In the meantime, the restaurant remains open.
Road construction and the need for a larger space convinced the couple that the time was right to make the move.
“I’m so glad to be getting off that freeway,” Thurlkill said. “I’m sick of looking at it. And the other day, our parking lot was being torn up by the road construction crew. Luckily, it was on a day we were closed.”
Milt’s new location was most recently a bar and grill. It’s been several restaurants and the building includes an area in back that’s perfect for the barbecue pits.
“I’ve been wanting this place for a while,” Thurlkill said. “Bunnie sweet-talked the owners into leasing it to us.”
Thurlkill, who was a general contractor for 30 years, will be doing most of the remodeling work himself. He plans to remove some fixtures and add a meat cutting station. He will open the new location in about a month. The move will require the restaurant to close for about two days, but then the pits will be fired up again.
“This place will look really different in 30 days,” he said.
The restaurant will serve beer and wine, and the couple plan to feature live entertainment.
“We’re going to make the outdoor area really nice,” Walling said. “We’re going to have a patio with shade and tables. We’re also going to have live music. It will be nice to add more choices for eating downtown. We’re so happy to be here in Kyle.”
Walling and Thurlkill moved from California to Texas to be closer to their children and decided this was a great place to have a barbecue restaurant.
“Our business has grown since we’ve been here,” Walling said. “And we’ve seen a lot change in the past five years. We really needed a bigger place. We love the town and we love the people.”
Milt’s serves barbecue slow smoked for hours with their special rub. They also make homemade sides and desserts. The couple also offer full-service catering. The business has been featured in national magazines and it won “Best BBQ in Central Texas” honors from KVET listeners in 2010.
The new kitchen includes a flat-top griddle, which Thurlkill intends to use for expanding his menu from barbecue to burgers, fries, fried okra and more.
“The griddle gives us different options,” he said. “I’m going to slowly ease into the other items, but I’m definitely going to make a killer burger.”
Restaurant hours could change with the new location, as well, said Walling.
“We’re not going to be a bar,” she said. “But we are thinking about staying open a little later. I think we’re going to be busier here.”
Thurlkill is also looking forward to the new location.
“Our landlord is really nice,” Thurlkill said. “We anticipate a long, happy stay here.”
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