End of a Cajun Era

Rustic Pe-Te's closes after decades of keeping Gulf Coast music traditions alive

Pilots and other workers from nearby Ellington Field became such regulars that the base commander asked Pe-Te to park his brisket-mobile on Ellington's premises -- he wanted his employees to get back from lunch more quickly. Before long, the gas station across the highway went up for sale, and Pe-Te snapped it up. The barbecue house was born.

About 18 months later, he and wife Jennie had the first of their Saturday-afternoon dances. Despite the dreary weather, complete with sleet and high winds, homesick Cajuns quickly filled the dance hall. Pe-Te became the area's self-appointed ambassador for Cajun culture.

In 1982, a caravan from radio station KTEK in Alvin stopped there on its way to the rodeo. One of the DJs in the caravan asked Pe-Te if he would broadcast live that night, which began a yearlong stint at the station. After the station had a management shakeup, Pe-Te started helping out with a Friday-night program at KPFT.

Pe-Te's memorabilia spans decades.
Daniel Kramer
Pe-Te's memorabilia spans decades.
Patrons have been bidding farewell to Pe-Te's since 
word of the closing leaked out.
Daniel Kramer
Patrons have been bidding farewell to Pe-Te's since word of the closing leaked out.

He grabbed the first time slot that came open -- 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Saturdays -- and he's been there ever since.

He plans to continue the radio program.

"It broke my heart when the dance hall was closed," he said last week. And he "didn't want to go back into the [restaurant] business" when his son offered to sell it back to him recently.

"But I'm keeping that radio program -- it's my baby," he said. "I've got to keep the Cajun culture going."

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