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Czech Brothers Meat calling it quits

Dale business had its challenges, co-founder says

By Scott Bellile

Czech Brothers Meat in Dale is exiting the barbecue business.

Co-founder Nate Kopesky said he and his brother Norm recently closed their doors to the public and are selling their equipment.

“We came to find out more work was involved than anticipated,” Nate Kopesky said.

Czech Brothers Meat, W8979 State Highway 96, started as a home venture. The brothers cooked products for family and friends before realizing they needed a restaurant license to do that.

The Kopeskys bought the business Vinny’s Pizza from former owner Chad Ewing last July and used the Vinny’s kitchen for Czech Brothers Meat. They sold central Texas-style beef brisket, beef clod, beef short ribs and pulled pork.

They operated Vinny’s Pizza as a separate business, sometimes offering their meat products on the menu. But the pizza took time away from their primary focus of the barbecue, which sometimes required 19 hours of smoking, Nate Kopesky said.

He said they also encountered big challenges operating Vinny’s Pizza: Their teen workers were busy with school activities, Nate Kopesky was suffering from a knee injury and the brothers had never run a restaurant.

“It’s an extremely hard industry to do well, especially when you have a lack of industry knowledge and you’re moving into a pre-existing business that there’s expectations that you can’t necessary hold,” Nate Kopesky said.

In hindsight, he would have changed the restaurant’s name because customers familiar with the Ewing-owned Vinny’s expected the same dining experience that new ownership could not replicate, he said.

“As my wife has said, if you’re going to pay to learn a lesson, this was a good one to learn,” Nate Kopesky said. “I’m very fortunate that we had the employees we did when we took over. Most of them stayed on. We had a couple that left shortly after we took over … but a lot of the kids that came over with us, they were great kids, and it wasn’t a lack of effort on their part for sure.”

The Kopeskys shuttered Vinny’s Pizza in mid-December. Czech Brothers Meat has stopped taking orders and will close once the brothers complete their backlog.

Nate Kopesky said the business will not return. He needs his knee to heal, and his brother wishes to spend more time with family.

The building owner is trying to sell the property, Nate Kopesky said.

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