Brownwood News – Skillet’s Restaurant, a long-time fixture on East Commerce in Brownwood, has closed its doors for good and the property has been sold. Chick-Fil-A purchased the property earlier this month. Demolition of the Skillet’s building began Wednesday, and a new stand-alone Chick-Fil-A will be built on the site.
The restaurant was opened 40 years ago by Don Howey. At the time Howey worked for Kettle Restaurants at the corporate level in Houston, but dreamed of owning his own restaurant. He drove around the state looking for a good location. According to his daughter Lisa May, who along with her brother Tom Howey have owned and operated Skillet’s in recent years, “when he first came through Brownwood he fell in love with the town and saw a future for himself and his family in this town. The people of Brownwood welcomed him with open arms and supported us from the first day.” Brownwood quickly became home for Don and his family. Lisa and Tom have remained in the area and run the restaurant after Don Howey retired.
The restaurant first opened in 1980 as a franchisee of Kettle Restaurants, and transitioned into an independent operator as Skillet’s in 1997. At one time the Howey family also owned restaurants in Abilene, Plainview, and Lubbock, but those restaurants were all sold over the years.
It was definitely a family endeavor. Along with Don Howey and his wife Alene all of his children (Lisa and Tom, plus brothers Todd and Doug), and several grandchildren, worked in Skillet’s at one time or another.
The Howey family expanded their presence in Brownwood/Early when they opened Humphrey Pete’s Restaurant in 1999. The restaurant is named after Lisa and Tom’s grandfather, Humphrey Pete Howey.
Like all local restaurants, Humphrey Pete’s has been challenged recently with the restrictions mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic. For several weeks Pete’s operated with curbside take-out service only. Now their dining room is open with the 25% occupancy restriction, soon to expand to 50%. Lisa said the community has been very supportive of Humphrey Pete’s during this time and expressed her appreciation to the people of Brownwood and Early. They took advantage of the down time to do minor and major repairs and renovations to the Humphrey Pete’s building. “All of our employees went above and beyond to help with the renovations. We really appreciate their effort and industry.” They look forward to the day that all restrictions are removed, and Humphrey Pete’s can once again offer full service to the community.
Lisa May closed with this statement: “There are a lot of memories of customers and employees that became like family to us. We would like to thank the Brownwood/Early communities for their support over the last 40 years. It was a bittersweet decision to sell the Skillet’s location. It was not an easy decision as all of our lives were molded by our father’s decision to open a restaurant here. We wish the new owners of the location, Chick-Fil-A, all the best in the future. It’s a great location to live your dream!”
Skillet’s as it looked on Thursday, May 21. Demotion is underway
to make room for a freestanding Chick-fil-A scheduled for completion this Fall.
(story by Mike Blagg)