Alvin Darrel Plaskoff, the founder of Big Al’s Smokehouse Barbecue, passed away on Nov. 24 at the age of 74. Succeeded by his family, who will continue running the business he started in 1973, Plaskoff leaves behind a legacy of multiple entrepreneurial and communal successes.
Plaskoff was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on Jan. 31, 1944, to Faye and Harry Plaskoff, and in 1950, relocated with his family to Miami, Florida. While attending schools, Al grew up fishing, boating and skiing, even achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. After graduating high school and briefly attending community college, Al moved out of Florida and began marriage and work in Dallas, TX.
While raising a family, Al spent the late ‘60s and early ‘70s as a meat salesman for Farmer’s Meat Market in downtown Dallas. This was when Al first sold briskets, hams and other meats to a considerable array of now-popular barbecue restaurants.
“Travis Dickey, Red Bryan, Bob White – you name it. I sold to all of them,” said Al in 2016, recalling an era when brisket and prime cuts were more dominant in the North than the South.
Al purchased his first restaurant in 1973, naming it Big Al’s Smokehouse Barbecue, and continued outsourcing meats to fund his brainchild. As a businessman, Al went through great lengths to ensure customer access to all prime cut meats. He even introduced Beef Ribs to the Dallas barbecue scene as a daily menu special and gained popularity for it.
“They were relatively cheap to buy because most processors considered them [by-products] of Prime Ribs,” said Al.
His smokehouse grew into a citywide franchise during the ‘80s, complete with catering services and a lasting influence on the DFW culinary world. As of today, most Dallas barbecue restaurants serve the Beef Rib at least one day each week.
Preceded in death by his parents, Al is survived by wife Linda Daniel, brother Martin Plaskoff, daughter Lauran Weiner, son Bart Plaskoff, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law and five grandchildren. His memorial service will be held at the Temple Emanu-El of Dallas at 12pm, on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018.