River Road BBQ: ORIGINS

For as long as I can remember, I have loved Meat and Fire.

 

When I was five years old, my mother hired a man whose job was to clean the fireplace and set another fire so it would be ready for use whenever needed.  Leon Briscoe was a patient man and did not mind a curious little boy following him around and he showed me how to place the paper, kindling and logs so that the fire would light quickly and be able to breathe. He always told me that fire was a living thing and needed to breathe like a living thing.

My family owned a hardwood lumber yard, and I started working there as a teenager. Over the years I learned a great deal about the woods that make BBQ and their unique aromatic differences. Some years later, when I was on my own, I got an old smoker I called longhorn and smoked every meat I could find.  After a while, I started firing it up and smoking meat for friends and family. After years of tinkering with my smoker and perfecting meats for family and friends, I decided it was time to take it a step further.

I opened River Road BBQ in January of 2012. Not exactly the greatest time of year to start a BBQ joint, but I subleased a part of an old bike shop, and my wife Susan and I started selling to go orders BBQ out back . We put two pork butts and a brisket  on the smoker every morning, five days a week, and we hoped that the public liked our BBQ as much as our friends. Fortunately they did. 

By March we were selling out every day, so I purchased another smoker (“The Old Guy”) and with it our capacity increased; we were up to 16 butts and 5 briskets.  With increased capacity came increased business, so I got a new smoker. A beast of a smoker, it’s 5-tons of fire-breathing power and it might be the sexiest thing smoking (that I’m not married to).  That’s the one that’s out front now- “The Beast” Now, we can smoke forty four pork butts and twenty two briskets at one time. That's 1000 lbs of meat – and a whole lot of fire.

So, that is how I ended up owning a BBQ Joint. Is it what I thought I would be doing at this age? No. It is far better than anything I thought I would be doing at any age.

 
 

-Jon