Weather Forecast


Elmer's BBQ reopens under new partnership

Elmer's Texas Barbeque, located just south of Ottertail, is now open. It had a late start this year while the owners finalized paperwork solidifying a new partnership between Mary Wilson and Rodger Heaton (pictured). Connie Vandermay/FOCUS1 / 2
Elmer's is known for having excellent ribs. Connie Vandermay/FOCUS2 / 2

That "place with the best ribs around," Elmer's Texas Barbeque, is now open and running again, with a new business partner in the mix.

Rodger Heaton bought into the business, located between Ottertail and Battle Lake on Highway 78, sharing ownership with Mary Wilson. Wilson, who owned Elmer's for the last five years, closed down last October and spent the winter looking for a new business partner. She found one in Heaton, an old friend.

The two graduated from Henning High School together, and have been best friends since they were 14. They both worked at Elmer's in the past, with original owners BJ and Elmer Newman.

When Heaton worked at Elmer's as a smart-mouthed teenager, he said, he told the Newmans that he was "going to own this place some day." The Newmans were quick to remind him of his statement when he signed the closing papers recently.

Heaton and Wilson are utilizing their individual talents to operate the seasonal restaurant - Heaton does the bookwork and runs the front, while Wilson does the cooking, staying up late to perfect the meat.

The barbeque menu offers the same homemade food that longtime Elmer's diners are used to, prepared with the original recipes brought from Texas with the Newmans in 1995.

The smoky, flavorful tradition begins at the end of the day, when fresh meat is loaded into the smokehouse for the next day's recipes. The pork ribs and beef brisket sit in the smoker all night long, allowing authentic smoky flavor to seep deep into the meat.

The meat is the heart of every dish at Elmer's Texas Barbeque, with rich-sized portions and plenty of sides to choose from. Heaton describes it as a family diner.

With a screened villa on site that seats 200, Elmer's can handle a crowd. The restaurant also offers catering to as few as six people, and staff will even offer to drive close to 200 miles for larger parties.

Heaton said over the years he has heard many tourists say Elmer's has the best ribs. An avid traveler himself who has tried many stacks of ribs, Heaton wholeheartedly agrees. He felt that way before he owned the place, he said.

Elmer's Texas Barbeque offers supper Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m., and Sunday they open early from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The restaurant is open May through September.