Bodacious Bar-B-Q founder Roland Lindsey’s love for food and serving those around him will live on through his restaurants and memories, his family, friends and customers say. The longtime restaurateur, 78, died Thursday.

Lindsey grew up in Dallas and learned how to cook barbecue in 1955 at his father’s cafe. He eventually operated his own Dallas-area restaurant until 1964, when he married his wife, Nancy.

The Lindseys moved to Longview from Commerce in 1967 and a year later opened the first Bodacious location on Mobberly Avenue under the name Little Roland’s Bodacious Bar-B-Q. Lindsey’s childhood nickname later was dropped from the restaurant.

His daughter, Paige Lindsey, said she and her sister, Robin Hightower, “literally grew up in the restaurant.”

Roland Lindsey’s niece, Shelly Butler, was “like (their) sister,” and still works at one of the restaurants, Paige Lindsey said.

“It’s the only life I’ve ever known. ... They kept me in a breadbox under the desk, and they had a nursery upstairs. The customers would pass me around,” Paige Lindsey said. “I would get to help Dad with little chores around the barbecue place.”

She said she had to “share him a lot,” but it was worth it.

“(The customers were) like family,” Paige Lindsey said. “It was always good to see people and have a parade of people in our lives because of the restaurants, so it made me love that part about my dad. ... It was neat to see him so giving and loving toward other people.”

Her father later opened a second location in Mount Pleasant. Today, Bodacious has 22 locations statewide, she said. The restaurant’s signature sauces, rubs and spices also are sold in grocery stores.

Pitmaster Jordan Jackson is known for inventing the Mother Clucker sandwich at Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q in Tyler. Jackson said he worked at the original Bodacious location in 2002 and returned for a second stint in June 2009.

Two months later, Jackson said he met Roland Lindsey for the first time when the Bodacious founder was hospitalized in San Angelo. Jackson was dating Paige Lindsey at the time.

He was scared to meet his future father-in-law in a hospital room, but from that moment, Jackson said they formed a bond. He and Paige Lindsey now are married with children.

“Everybody always told us that we were best friends. We did a lot together. We traveled a lot together with the stores and stuff. We had a love for food. ... We were so much alike in that sense, and we just created a bond over food and family,” Jackson said of Roland Lindsey.

Because of Roland Lindsey’s declining health, he closed the Mobberly Avenue location in December 2013. With his father-in-law’s blessing, Jackson reopened the restaurant in June 2015.

Jackson told the News-Journal in 2015 that he wanted to “preserve what Roland worked really hard on all these years ... and be one of the (Texas Monthly) Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas with the original location.” The restaurant was ranked fourth on Texas Monthly’s list in 2017 with a rating of 4.75 out of 5.

Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn wrote about his pursuits at several Bodacious locations. Vaughn said he “had such a great interview” with Roland Lindsey in 2015.

“Through his passing, we’ve just lost so much knowledge of Texas barbecue,” he said. “He saw the complete transformation of barbecue, meaning just something to feed people with the cheapest cuts of meat to what Bodacious is right now — a destination place that people drive for hours just to get to. .... It’s sad to know that he’s gone.”

One of Vaughn’s fondest memories of Roland Lindsey is his ”hot-and-fast brisket” that he wrote about in 2016. Vaughn said he was visiting the Mobberly Avenue restaurant when Roland Lindsey told him that he “could cook a brisket in three hours.”

“I called his bluff and said, ‘We’ll swing back by in three hours.’ He’s like, ‘OK, we’ll see you then.’ We came back in four hours. He’s waiting around for us,’ “ Vaughn said. “We cut into the brisket. It wasn’t the best brisket I’ve ever eaten, but it was certainly a good, edible brisket, which is amazing to be done in three hours. ... We laughed and shared that brisket.”

Employee Bryan Bingham said he enjoyed being around Roland Lindsey and “listening to his stories.”

“(Roland) said he wanted to die right in the pit out there. That tells you all you need to know about him,” Bingham said. “He was as good of a guy that you’ll ever meet.”

Bodacious customers will miss Roland Lindsey “because he had a standard of quality,” said Bob Westbrook, former president of the East Texas Restaurant Association.

Though Lindsey put his restaurants and family first, Westbrook said he “still had a presence in supporting different efforts in the community.”

“He supported the Restaurant Association by supporting our fundraisers, and he was always eager to offer advice to anyone that needed it with regard to how their business should run,” Westbrook said. “His culture and (he will) live on through his food and all of the restaurants that carry the Bodacious brand.”

Though several Bodacious restaurants are scattered across East Texas, customers say the original location produces the best barbecue. When James Marchlinski isn’t smoking his own meat in Fort Worth, he said he goes to Bodacious for his barbecue cravings.

“This one definitely tastes different from all the rest ... and that’s why you see all of these people here. The parking lot stays full,” Marchlinski said.

Lawrence Harper of Big Sandy said the food is good and “usually, it’s the same every time.”

“I was in Kentucky ... and got some barbecue back in August. I looked at my wife, and I said, ‘Well, it ain’t Bodacious.’ She said, ‘No it’s not,’ “ Harper said Friday.

Ewell Schiemer was visiting from Plano and waited 30 minutes before he inched near the order counter Friday. He said he always orders the brisket, sausage and ribs.

“If I don’t get all three, I feel like I’m missing something,” Schiemer said.

“He was a man of God,” Paige Lindsey said of her father. “He was simple. He is going to be greatly, greatly missed by many people who said he was a father figure to them. He’ll leave a hole in our family, but he’ll leave a hole in a lot of people’s hearts.”

Jackson said the restaurant will be continue to be open as normal. The Mobberly Avenue location is usually open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Arrangements are pending at Rader Funeral Home, and services will be scheduled for a later date, Paige Lindsey said.

Reporter

Brittany Michelle Williams, a University of Arkansas alumna, serves East Texas as an education reporter at the News-Journal. She won Arkansas Press Association and Arkansas AP Media Editors awards for her work in El Dorado, Arkansas.