In 1897, Mr. Charlie Hasselback, of German descent, brought a hot link recipe to Camp County. As time went on, there were a few hot link joints in Camp County.. Owned by Charlie Hasselback, O.O. Smith, and there was Johnny Franklin's . Others included Henry James, Francis James, Bennie Warrick, and Mr. Potter... all closed. Then Barney Warrick, G. Warrick/Jimmy Brooks, and finally Gene & Madeline Warrick's evolved to Pittsburg Hot Link. Hasselback was first located in the "Old Maddox Building" on Main Street, selling the links over the counter for preparation at home. Soon he built an addition to his building in 1918 and began serving cooked links over the counter, from back street. The "back street" is where you could find the Hot Links. The surroundings were not elaborate; wooden counters and benches, the links were served with crackers on heavy market paper, and special hot sauce was provided in soda water bottles. Cold drinks were offered in many assorted flavors.
The links sold for 2 for a nickel, 5 for a dime, and a dozen for a quarter. You could eat them there or carry them out-a custom that became popular with the housewife.
Word about the links traveled fast. Pittsburg had two railroad lines and before long the crews on the trains scheduled their stopovers in Pittsburg and walked up the alley behind the business for their noon and early evening meals. Truckers and traveling salesmen also soon started coming. People from other towns liked the links so much they unsuccessfully tried to match the flavor of the links in grocery stores and meat markets.
There have been many Hot Link" Joints" or "Stands" in Pittsburg and they all started with a recipe brought to Camp County by Charlie Hasselback. O.O. Smith worked with Mr. Hasselback, learning his trade, and Johnny Franklin eventually took over the store. Franklin sold out but the business eventually closed in the 1990's. In 2013 the building burned and currently serves as home to a new small business in the local downtown hub. Henry James had a Hot Link Joint on W. Marshall Street. Barnie Warrick worked with Mr. James for years. When Mr. James died, his daughter Francis took over and Barnie Warrick started his own business behind the Busy B grocery near the Railroad Depot. Francis James sold to Bennie Warrick, who eventually sold to Earl Potter.
Gene Warrick had returned from the Navy and started a business with his dad, Barnie Warrick. At this point, there were three businesses in town that served hot links. Potter's closed around the late 1970's. Barnie Warrick died and Gene Warrick went into partnership with Jimmy Brooks in the 1970's. They started the B&W Meat Company and JB's Hot Links.
In the 1980's Gene Warrick bought and incorporated the businesses, changing the name to Pittsburg Hot Link Restaurants, Inc. and Pittsburg Hot Link Packers, Inc.
Gene & Madeline Warrick bought and remodeled the James/Potter building where Gene & Madeline Warrick, founders of the brand Pittsburg Hot Links, ran the business for many years. Hazelle Cowley (Gene's sister) worked with her brother for many years. Family members joined the companies, learned the trade from dad until Gene Warrick passed away in 2002. Madeline Warrick, although not actively involved in the daily operations of the business, continues to watch over the Block with care. The businesses have since passed on to the children. Currently, the Restaurant is owned and managed by Salina Warrick Dollinger and her husband Scot. The tradition continues in much the same way.
Today the Hot Links of Pittsburg, Texas are known as the PITTSBURG Brand Hot Links. Located in the middle of the Block of buildings in Historic Downtown backstreet, Pittsburg Hot Link Restaurant is a thriving little business that brings many customers, old and new to this small Texas town. Hot Links are served on butcher paper with crisp saltine crackers and there's a bottle of hot sauce on the table.
In 2019, Pittsburg, Texas was officially named the HOT LINK CAPITAL OF TEXAS. We like to think we have helped our little corner of the world flourish.
Even though times have changed, diets have changed, people have changed, Pittsburg Hot Links remain the same.
They are just as greasy and just as delicious as always. Being described as East Texas Caviar, East Texas Hot Links, Comfort Food and just down right Delicious, one thing is for certain- if you ever try them you will begin to crave them... even if you don't quite like them at first. They will grow on you.
We hope to see you soon.