Remembering the Pig Stand.

Do you remember the last Pig Stand restaurant, the one that used to operate on Washington Avenue? This Houston Pig Stand  closed its doors forever sometime in the last decade or so. It is now the site of Sawyer Park, which, according to local historian and man-about-town Mike Vance of TV Channel 55,  is now one of the hottest sports bars in the city these days.

The subject came up for me as Mike Vance and I were conversing via e-mail last night on the subject of Houston’s drive in restaurant history. Mike had asked me what I remembered or knew of any burger business that may have have preceded Prince’s in Houston. The local Prince’s Drive In chain opened in 1934.

Well, even I am too young to recall anything prior to 1934. All I could think of was the Pig Stand, even though they were famous for their pig sandwich. I’m not sure they even offered burgers too. As a kid of age five, I remember my parents taking us there to the one on Washington Avenue while we were still living in the Heights. Seems to me there was also a Pig Stand in the Heights itself, but my memory of that possibility may be shaky. I couldn’t even recall the curb service on Washington. My memories are of eating a pig sandwich inside the place.

The Pig Stand holds quite a place in Texas restaurant history, The first one opened in the Dallas area in 1921 as American entrepreneurs scrambled to take advantage of new market needs generated by the growing populariy and presence of the automobile. Places offering “curb service” became the call of the times as Americans travelled further, ate out more, and got lazier about how they dined. It wasn’t long before the Pig Stand chain of the 1920s expanded into San Antonio, Houston, Beaumont, and even into California, on a coast-to-coast expansion of places offering both “drive through” and “curb service” purchase of those “oink-o-licious” pig sandwiches.

The Pig Stand movement reached its big trough days during the 1930s when 130 stores opened all around the country. The chain takes credit for the mass introduction of several food items beyond the star pig sandwich too. These included Texas toast, deep-fried onion rings, and the chicken fried steak sandwich. The Pig Stand stores were among the first to offer fluorescent lighting, neon lights, and air conditioning as well.

Mary’s Pig Stand on Broadway in San Antonio is now the Alamo of them all, staying open in good faith and tribute to a bygone era and a business that once played its part in the eventual destruction of the family home evening meal. I only wish they were closer to home in Houston. Those delicious pig sandwiches were good enough to have  earned a week’s full of condemnation from health specialists like Dr. Oz of daytime television medicine, but they were still sooooooooo soooie-goooie good!

We’d love to have your memories of the Pig Stand here too as comments. Also, if you can think of any burger businesses that were big in Houston prior to Prince’s, please feel free to write about them too.

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8 Responses to “Remembering the Pig Stand.”

  1. "longball" Says:

    I have a great atory about the Pig Stand. Back in the 1990’s my dear brother Rory, Myself and an Italian Guy named Gerry Guarino ate lunch there as Rory was looking for a place to re-locate the Local Charm. It was like a step back in time with the waitress in her old 50’s looking Drive in waitress outfit. The food was as good as the atmosphere in there. Jerry’s family owned an old building just down the street and I was in charge of sizing up the considerable amount of work needed to bring the building up to code. We had lunch at the Pig Stand and I finished early. I was wearing shorts and tenis shoes and I told the guys that I was going to jog on down to the Salvation Army Thrift store, as coming from a famliy of twelve I was used to shopping at thfift stores and grage sales. Low and behold as I was checking out the shoe selection I ran across a beautiful pair of Rio De Mercedes Wing Tip Sea turtle cowboy boots in 11 1/2. Just my size. I was shaking as I tried then on and they fit like Cinderella’s slipper. I walked up the the check-out counter still wearing them and wrote a check for $26.76. I will never forget the look on Rory’s face as I waltzed into the Pig Stand in shorts wearing my new found Trift Store find of the century.He wears the same size as me and I took joy in rubbing his face in my new purchase. I don’t think I will ever forget that look on his face. Later I learned for one of the maida boys that I went to St.Thomas with that Rio De Mercedes is the beat bootmaker in Texas and that the sea turtle is now considered contraband and that those boots were custom made and probaly cost ver $1200.00 to make.Every time I wear those boots I have fond memories of the Pig Stand on Washington Ave.Those were the days….

  2. Steve Schifani Says:

    The Pig stand I rember most is the one that was two blocks from our home. It was in the 6000 Block of Harrisburg Blvd,Houston.
    The price when I was a kid was Ten Cents and as stated by others they were Grrrrrreat Now at 71 and on longer a kid (some would would debate this) I have to onder why such a great product faded.

  3. Ken Dupuy Says:

    During my St. Thomas High days, I lived a block from the Pig Stand on North Main. I’d often go there for supper, especially when I didn’t care for the meal my great-aunt prepared. I was living at her home.
    I sat at the counter. Although I can’t recall specific memories about this fast food restaurant, I’ll always remember the little pig lit up in neon lights.

  4. Melanie Mitchum Says:

    My mother was a car hop at the Pig Stand on Washington…..good memories

  5. Sharon Middleton Says:

    A place to check out near by and still open, is Hickory Hollow. It’s on Heights Blvd. just a block north of Washington Ave. Their CFS is great no matter what the “food police” say.

  6. Kayla Hiles Says:

    My grandfather was the cook for the pig stand in houston for as long as I can remember. I remember when I’d visit I always ordered pancakes. He passed away before it closed down so I was sad to hear about it closing. But I did visit the one in san antonio and it brought back memories.

    • Christy hansen Says:

      My Grandaddy managed the Pig Stand on Washington for years before retirement. I have vague memories of going there as a very little kid. Had to have been in the late 60’s or early 70’s.

  7. Stephanie davidson Says:

    as a kid growing up in houston texas my mom used to work at the pigstand on Washington avenue she used to come home with her apron full of change and dollar bills those were great memories of mines and my sister and brother

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