PORT NECHES – One of the area’s best barbecue spots has been using consistency as a key ingredient for almost 50 years.
Billy Joe’s Bar-BQ was established in 1973 by Billy Joe Butler. After opening a small booth, Butler opened the location at 2029 Magnolia Ave.
In 1975, Garry Richards went to work for Butler while he was in high school.
“After going to college, I came back here because I wanted to stay in the restaurant business,” Richards said.
“When he called me back he told me he wanted to hire me as a manager. I told him 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 it back.
Richards has always had fun running the business.
“It’s a good deal,” he said.
“It’s very consistent. We do the same thing every day. Consistency is what made us popular. We have very good follow-up. Our original clients are retired and older, but they still come to tell us how they have always dealt with us. It’s good to hear the stories they tell.
The location has undergone three renovations since Richards took over.
The restaurant was fortunate enough to add a car ride just months before the pandemic hit. The addition is now one of the restaurant’s lifelines.
The smell of fresh barbecue permeates the area so much that Richards thinks it’s the main reason people come.
“I have always said that if a new person comes by with the windows down three times, I have them,” he said. “We have a real wood pit. We have it all the time. There was a music school across the street, and every time the owner walked in and said, “You all have to turn this stuff off. I’m on a diet.'”
Richards said the location has retained the same recipes since opening and has just been added to the menu.
“When we bought the place, the owner had a restaurant next door,” said Richards. “We took the top ten items off their menu and brought them here… It worked well for us. We added catfish, fried shrimp, salads and burgers. We added that to the smoked turkey, smoked ham, brisket and all that. It was a good shot. “
The biggest sellers are the BBQ Chicken Plate and the Breast and Sausage Plate.
“If you’re just making sandwiches, the ground beef sandwich will blow them all off,” Richards said.
“The crazy thing is that it was originally a barbecue byproduct. When you cut from the breast, you have pieces that you cannot use. You set it aside, chop it and add the barbecue sauce.
Now Billy Joe’s cooks a case of beef brisket a day just to cut them up for sandwiches just to keep up with demand.
“He has become his own creature,” he said.
Billy Joe’s Bar-BQ is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Call 409-727-1482 for more information.