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Willie Madden, Owner of Iconic Houston Barbecue Joint Pizzitola’s, Has Died

He’d owned the restaurant since 2019

Is it Pizzitola's that is the best? Only you can decide.
Pizzitola’s
Katy Norris [EHOU]
Amy McCarthy is a reporter at Eater.com, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

Willie Madden, a longtime Houston restaurateur and current owner of iconic Houston barbecue joint Pizzitola’s, has died.

The decades-old restaurant announced the sad news in a Facebook post over the weekend, but did not elaborate on Madden’s cause of death other than noting that it was “sudden.” “To say that we are devastated is an understatement. Willie was a great man, a proud father and lived with a servant’s heart,” the post reads. “He never went anywhere in Houston where he didn’t run into a friend, because he had many.”

Madden purchased Pizzitola’s BBQ from its former owner Jerry Pizzitola in 2019, with big plans to upgrade the decades-old restaurant’s menu and the space on Shepherd Drive that has long housed the restaurant. Prior to purchasing Pizzitola’s, Madden operated five locations of popular cheesesteak shop Texadelphia.

A funeral mass celebrating Madden’s life is set for Thursday, January 21 at 10 a.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. Pizzitola’s will be closed that day.