ON THE MENU — Consistency drives Billy Joe’s Bar-B-Q success
Published 12:11 am Saturday, October 23, 2021
PORT NECHES — One of the top barbeque spots in the area has used consistency as the key ingredient for nearly 50 years.
Billy Joe’s Bar-B-Q was created in 1973 by Billy Joe Butler. After opening up a small stand, Butler opened the location at 2029 Magnolia Ave.
In 1975, Garry Richards went to work for Butler while in high school.
“After I went to college, I came back here because I wanted to stay in the restaurant business,” Richards said.
“When he called me back, he said he wanted to hire me as a manager. I told him that I would come back if he gave me the option to buy at some point. He wasn’t sure and I wasn’t sure. I married my wife, who was working here at the time and in 2000, I was able to buy him out.”
Richards has always had fun running the business.
“It is a good business,” he said.
“It is very consistent. We do the same thing every day. Consistency is what has kept us popular. We have a real good following. Our original customers are retired and up in their age, but they still come in and talk about how they have been doing business with us forever. It is good to hear the stories they tell.”
The location has undergone remodeling three times since Richards took over.
The eatery was fortunate to add a drive through just months before the pandemic hit. The addition is now one of the lifelines for the restaurant.
The smell of fresh barbeque permeates the area so much that Richards believes it is the main reason people come in.
“I have always said that if a new person drives by with your windows down three times, I got ‘em,” he said. “We have a real wood pit. We have it going all of the time. There used to be music school across the street, and every time the owner would come in and say, ‘Y’all need to turn that thing off. I am on a diet.’”
Richards said the location has kept the same recipes since it opened and have just added to the menu.
“When we bought the place out, the owner had a diner next to it,” Richards said. “We took the top ten items off their menu and brought them here… It has worked out well for us. We added catfish, fried shrimp, salads and hamburgers. We added that to the smoked turkey, smoked ham, brisket and all of that. It was a good move.”
The biggest sellers are the barbeque chicken plate and the brisket and sausage plate.
“If you are just doing sandwiches, the chopped beef sandwich will blow them all out,” Richards said.
“What is crazy is that it was originally a byproduct of barbeque. When you are slicing brisket, you have bits and pieces that you can’t use. You put it off to the side and chop it up and add barbeque sauce.”
Now, Billy Joe’s cooks a case of briskets a day just to chop up for the sandwiches just to meet the demand.
“It has become its own creature,” he said.
Billy Joe’s Bar-B-Q is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Call 409-727-1482 for more information.