Business: Van's Pig Stand celebrates 91 years of barbecue

The Shawnee News-Star
Van's Pig Stand on East Highland in Shawnee.

This month, Van's Pig Stands celebrate 91 years in the business.

"Van's Fans are a part of our family and our history, and we love to hear their stories," said Jev Vandegrift, co-owner. "Without our loyal customers, there would be no Van's Pig Stands."

Van's Pig Stands has been open since 1930 and has been an Oklahoma tradition for decades. Famous for  hickory-smoked ribs, brisket, and pig sandwiches, there are currently five locations — two in Shawnee and one each in Norman, Moore and Purcell.

"It has been an honor to serve generations of families,” said Nina Shuman, co-owner. "Just like our grandparents, we plan to continue serving delicious family-friendly BBQ for generations to come."

Van's Pig Stands has been a Vandegrift family tradition since the 1920s. Leroy Vandegrift got his start in the restaurant business while working in the oilfields in the early 1900s by selling breakfast and lunch to his coworkers in the oil field.

In 1928, Leroy opened his first Van's Pig Stand in Wewoka. That same year his brother Briggs opened a Van's Pig Stand in Wichita Falls, Texas. They opened another pair in 1929, in Seminole, Oklahoma and Wichita, Kansas.

On June 5, 1930, Leroy opened his third Pig Stand location at 714 Highland in Shawnee, which moved across the street to its present location five years later. Wanting to keep Van's a family-owned and operated business, Leroy passed the restaurant onto his son, Jerry Vandegrift.

The family tradition continues into 2021. The day-to- day operations are now managed by the third generation, which includes Jerry's son, Jev Vandegrift, and Jerry's daughter and son-in-law, Mark and Nina Shuman. This long-standing family tradition makes Van's Pig Stands the oldest single family-owned and operated barbecue restaurant in the state of Oklahoma.

"It was from humble beginnings my father started Van's," said Jerry Vandegrift.  "For coming up on a century, folks have looked to Van's to fill their bellies in good times and bad times, and we don't plan on stopping."