The Tradition Continues...
February 16, 2017
Two Angelo State alumni have brought one of the most iconic names and some of the best flavors in Texas bar-b-q a lot closer to the ASU campus.
Mark and Kim Cooper, both 1988 ASU graduates, opened the newest Cooper’s Bar-B-Q restaurant in November 2016 in Christoval, just south of San Angelo and ASU. It is the seventh Cooper’s Bar-B-Q in Texas, but is the only one completely owned by the Cooper family.Cooper’s Bar-B-Q restaurants are famous throughout the state for their mesquite-grilled meats, unique sauce and casual, homey atmosphere. The first Cooper’s was opened in 1953 in Mason by Mark’s grandfather, George Cooper, and there are now six other locations in Austin, Fort Worth, Llano, New Braunfels, Junction and Christoval. Mark and Kim are also part-owners of the Junction restaurant and ran it for 17 years before deciding to open their own Cooper’s Bar-B-Q in Christoval.
Mason native Mark and Seagraves native Kim (King) met as students at ASU. Common interests brought them together, as Mark was a business management major and Kim was a business major and had a work-study job in what was then the College of Professional Studies. Kim played intramurals and was a Lambda Chi little sister, while Mark was active in the Block & Bridle Club, but spent most weekends back in Mason working for his grandfather at the original Cooper’s Bar-B-Q.
“We have come full circle back to San Angelo and we are very happy to be back.”
The Coopers have been married for 27 years and have two kids, Chase and Amber. Chase recently graduated from the University of Texas and Amber is a senior at UT. The prospect of being done funding their kids’ college tuition spurred Mark and Kim to make the move to open their own restaurant, and their return to the San Angelo area has been welcomed by grateful customers. They have even been featured on the local KLST-TV news.
The Coopers’ restaurant in Christoval is complete with a “Party Room” that can be reserved for special events, and future expansion is planned so they can host live music events on at outdoor stage. But for now, they are happy to serve up their tasty Texas bar-b-q with all the “fixins” and uphold the Cooper Family slogan, “You still can’t beat our meat!”
Mark & Kim Cooper - I Chose ASU
Why did you choose ASU?
Mark – I chose ASU because San Angelo was a small town, but also a big town. A lot of the students at ASU were from small towns, and that was a good feel for me. There were good students and good people at ASU and in San Angelo.
How did ASU prepare you for your careers?
Mark – It was the interaction with the other students and faculty, as well as the classes. It was a great atmosphere for personal growth.
Kim – Yeah, I agree with that.
Did you have a favorite professor?
Mark – Phil George the athletic director and Jerry Vandergriff the football coach. Phil George taught one of my classes, and I ran around with a lot of the football players. Jerry was the head coach and I just really liked the guy.
What was your favorite place on campus and why?
Kim – Mine was the business building because I had lots of friends there and my sister worked there. My friends and I would walk across campus to the UC to do the mail run. We had fun at work and really had fun all the time. It was a really happy time in my life.
Mark – Mine was the snooker tables in the University Center.
What was your favorite thing about being an ASU student?
Kim – We had so many friends. Everyone was just so friendly. Plus, at ASU you weren’t just another fish in the sea. Everybody was somebody on campus, and it was hometown friendly.
Mark – The other students. There was great camaraderie and you always felt at home.
Did anything surprise you about ASU when you became a student?
Kim – You could just walk everywhere. You didn’t really even need to have a car, and you didn’t know that until you got on campus. You could walk anywhere you needed to go, unless you wanted to eat lunch off campus.
Mark – Just the campus. It was very easy to get wherever you needed to go.
What would you say to prospective students considering choosing ASU?
Mark – I would say that San Angelo is a small town, but also a big town that has everything you need. There is also a calm atmosphere at ASU, and you get a great education. You don’t have to compete with 30,000 other students. Plus, a lot of the students come from small towns and they are more respectful. I think the education is just as good, if not better, than you get at a Division I school.
Kim – I think you get a really good education at ASU. It’s just an awesome school! Also, San Angelo is a pretty cool place to live. We’re excited to be here. We have come full circle back to San Angelo and we are very happy to be back.