Cattleack Barbeque in Farmers Branch has been sold to employee Andrew Castelan, a 34-year-old former accountant who left the business world for barbecue.
Founder Todd David says he’ll remain at the restaurant, working the meat-cutting station like he has since the restaurant opened in 2013 in a nondescript building in the shadow of Galleria Dallas. David started Cattleack as a hobby that eventually blossomed into one of the best barbecue joints in Texas. Even 10 years later, it still sells some of Dallas-Fort Worth’s best brisket.
“I’ll go back to doing what I love to do, which is cooking barbecue here,” David says. Castelan’s role as owner means he takes over the day-to-day business operations. Castelan bought Cattleack with his wife, Natalie Castelan, on Aug. 1, 2023.
The restaurant is currently open Thursday and Friday for lunch only, plus the first Saturday of the month. By fall, Andrew Castelan hopes to expand Cattleack’s hours to Saturday, still only at lunchtime.
The change makes sense: “Saturday is the best time to go get barbecue,” Cattleack’s founder says.
David is looking forward to more time to travel with his wife, Misty David, another fixture in the Cattleack line. But Todd David is not removing himself from the “hobby” he created.
“We’re not going anywhere,” he says. “I didn’t sell it to go do something else: I sold it to protect the future and the growth.
“It’s kind of an insurance policy — for my staff first and customers second.”
From accounting to barbecue
Plano native Castelan started barbecuing as an “escape from office life.” For about five years, he worked at one of the nation’s top accounting firms, EY.
While working full-time, Castelan met pitmaster Aaron Franklin at his famed Austin restaurant, Franklin Barbecue. After a casual (yet career-altering) 30-minute conversation, Franklin inspired Castelan to buy a 500-gallon propane tank and build his own offset smoker in his garage. For years, Castelan used that homemade smoker to hone his craft. He even had to move to a new neighborhood because the smoker didn’t fit the homeowners’ association standards.
“If I can’t keep the smoker here, this isn’t the house for us,” he says.
He left corporate America to work at Ten50 BBQ in Richardson for about nine months before scoring a job at Cattleack. He prepped food and cleaned the kitchen for six months before he was even allowed to work on the pits.
Over the next six years, David became an “incredible mentor,” Castelan says, and he expressed interest in owning his own restaurant one day.
“This restaurant is really a part of me,” he says. “It was Todd’s restaurant, but I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into it, too.”
Customers might naturally wonder if Cattleack’s younger owner has ambitions of scaling the restaurant to other locations. Or, opening more than a few days a week. Or expanding to dinner.
Nope. Castelan says a few days a week, lunch only, at one location, is what works.
“I don’t have a desire to add more locations,” the new owner says. “I’m not in it to franchise. I’m in it to make a good living for my wife and my kids and put out the best possible product for my customers every single day. I can’t do that with multiple locations. I love this too much.”
Cattleack Barbeque is in the same spot it’s always been, 13628 Gamma Road, Dallas. Cattleack opens at 10 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays and on the first Saturday of the month. The barbecue usually sells out by 2 p.m.