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Glenn Snell — A Real Texas Original by Kaya Morgan

Over the years, as an ambassador for the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Glenn Snell has successfully navigated his way through the business maze, creating connections with some of the most successful people in Texas, and around the country. Born in Odessa, Glenn's family moved to Killeen when he was just a child. This former farm and ranching community was transformed during WWII into a military center built around what eventually came to be known as Fort Hood. Seeing a great opportunity, Snell's family jumped at the chance to serve this growing town with what became their signature food — barbeque.

As a sergeant in the military, Snell's father instilled character in his children with a strong work ethic and moral code while mom, a nurse, had her hands full juggling work with managing their nine children. As second to the youngest, Glenn learned the value of teamwork, and self-discipline early on. In 1945, grandfather, Maurice, opened Maurice's Real Pit Barbecue in Killeen then moving to Harker Heights, as the first black businessman in the area. Growing up on a ranch, Snell's grandfather never finished the fifth grade but wore lots of different hats from oil field worker to waiter, mechanic, electrician, driver and delivery man before finally having his chance to open a restaurant which was his lifelong passion. Fortunately, because of his creative cooking talents, the restaurant became a huge success, and Maurice was soon able to bring on a number of family members to help run his tight ship.

By the time Glenn was 9, he began working in the restaurant with tidying up, washing dishes, cleaning tables, and mopping the floors. By age 12, he was allowed to work in the kitchen alongside his grandfather by doing much of the prep work while learning the basics of creating great barbeque foods flavored with what became their famous sauce. “Soon I was preparing the coleslaw and pinto beans, cooking the meat, and even chitlins,” Snell recalls.

Frequented by LBJ and Lady Bird Johnson, it wasn't long before the young and famous heartthrob, Elvis Presley, heard about the great food. Along with his father, Vernon, and manager “the colonel”, they would drive the Cadillac down the hill, park out back and often eat right there in the parking lot just to avoid being mobbed by fans.

Maurice's reputation grew far and wide. The walls inside the restaurant became adorned with photos and notes as a Who's Who of frequent patrons — celebrities and well known personalities including recording artists such as Johnny Paycheck, Gregg Smith, Tyrone Davis, and the legendary Bobby Blues Band, members of the Harlem Globetrotters, Houston Astros, Larry Sanders, actor Whitman Mayo - best known for Sanford and Son, and R.L. Griffin – owner of the Dallas Blues Palace, just to mention a few.

Spending so much time around the local, popular eating stop, Glenn learned lots about how to create, market and promote their brand. By 19, he began helping his Uncle Roy promote and market dance contests at his nightclub. Then, at 20, he found himself the youngest nightclub manager in the Killeen area. Bitten by the entertainment bug, by 24 Snell landed a spot as the opening act for comedian, T.P. Hearn, eventually becoming an R & B singer putting him directly in the company of Blues legend Johnny Taylor, Latimore, R. L. Griffin, Gregg Smith, and Woo Davis. Snell still continues to sing in local Blues clubs around the Dallas area today.

Looking back, Snell admits that he became fascinated and influenced by a young 17-year old Mickey Rooney who, on the Judge Hardy and Son TV show, often dressed in suits and behaved as an impressive young businessman. “I adopted his habit of dress, and attitude,” says Snell, which he still believes in today. He also had the good fortune to meet local real estate tycoon, James Myers, who “taught me the importance of education and investing.“

Snell believes himself to be fortunate, “In the business world, there are so many things to keep in perspective. However, one thing that has stayed in my mind, passed on by my grandfather is that — ‘no matter how far or how high you rise in life, remain humble, so that those around you will help you reach your dreams and goals.' He was a giant among men, and while working with him, he was much more than that to me. Aside from having the best barbeque restaurant in Texas, he was also my friend, mentor, and teacher. Yet, it was his grandfather's communication skills that brought people into the restaurant from all over the world to visit, and get a taste of the great food. To this day, I continue to value this most important aspect in business.”

Building on his grandfather's legacy and following in his footsteps, Snell created what started out as a simple grilling sauce by enhancing the original recipe. Now called Mr. G, that original sauce has expanded into a marinade, dipping, and cooking sauce. Glenn is now taking it even further as a taco sauce and Bloody Mary mix after requests from friends and family found it was the perfect taste when used to enhance a wide variety of foods.

In his spare time, Snell loves to read and listen to motivational authors and speakers such as Brian Tracy, Earl Nightingale, Norman Vincent Peale, and Robert Kiyosaki. “I'll never forget when I was 15, finding a man eating out of a garbage can behind the restaurant. My grandfather told the man to stop eating out of that nasty trash can. The man looked up at my grandfather, his mouth filled with food, and said, ‘I'm hungry and have no money for food.' My grandfather turned to me and said, ‘Glenn, get this man a plate of food so he can eat.' I have never forgotten that day as it was when I learned a valuable lesson about humanity given me by my grandfather. As I now move this historic sauce throughout Texas, and this great country, an important part of my business will be to give back to the homeless and hungry.”

When asked what three people aside from family, Snell would want with him if stranded on a South Sea island, he replied, “First, God — because one must have faith in someone; next, my friend and mentor George Thompson because there is no better gift than a meaningful conversation between two friends; and finally, MacGyver (the TV action hero) because he would either build something to get us off that island, or come up with some other idea to get us out of there!" — he says with a grin.

In ending our meeting, Glenn had one final thought, “It amazes me that when you travel outside the United States how little the color of a person's skin matters. I wish that people could learn to see through the wisdom of their heart instead of through their eyes because by doing so, one might be surprised to find that we're all the same race — the human race.”

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