Houston Chronicle Sunday

What’s in a barbecue-joint name?

- Jcreid@jcreidtx.com twitter.com/jcreidtx

Blood Bros. BBQ may be the best barbecue-joint name in Houston. It’s eye-catching and meaningful — representi­ng the owners’ longtime friendship growing up in the blue-collar Alief neighborho­od.

Indeed, other than location and smoker type, the most consequent­ial decision an aspiring barbecue entreprene­ur can make is the name of his or her establishm­ent.

The mom-and-pop nature of the barbecue business lends itself to a personal touch, which is why the name of choice is usually a given name, family name or nickname. And in most cases, the barbecue joint is inseparabl­e from the owner, so the idea of putting his or her name on the door makes sense.

Last names are the most common nowadays, famously at Aaron Franklin’s world-renowned Franklin Barbecue in Austin. Last names can include the possessive apostrophe or not, and it’s a badge of honor among hardcore barbecue fans to know which is which in every case. A sure way to earn the ridicule of barbecue elites is to refer to it as “Franklin’s Barbecue.”

In Houston, non-possessive names include Eaker Barbecue (Lance Eaker), Feges BBQ (Patrick Feges) and Roegels Barbecue Co. (Russell Roegels). Possessive­s include Killen’s Barbecue (Ronnie Killen), Gatlin’s BBQ (Greg Gatlin), Pinkerton’s Barbecue (Grant Pinkerton) and Brooks’ Place (Trent Brooks).

First names aren’t as prevalent, and tend toward the short and simple, such as Ray’s BBQ Shack (Ray Busch) and Brett’s BBQ Shop (Brett Jackson). There’s a Brett’s Backyard Bar-BQue in Rockdale (Brett Boren) and the rare full-name Terry

Black’s Barbecue in Austin and Dallas.

One of the more perplexing names is La Barbecue in Austin. Most newcomers think it’s just

Spanish for “The Barbecue” but in fact is an abbreviati­on of the coowner’s name: LeAnn Mueller.

Family names are undoubtedl­y the foundation of Texas barbecue. Goode Co. Barbeque, Louie Mueller Barbecue and Burns Original BBQ are just a few of the names that evoke the multigener­ational history of smoked meats in the Lone Star State.

More recently, Randy Duncan named his Katy barbecue establishm­ent Daddy Duncan’s BBQ after his grandfathe­r. Adrian

Handsborou­gh named his Spring Branch restaurant Virgie’s BBQ after his mother.

Pitmaster Wes Jurena named his barbecue competitio­n team Pappa Charlie’s after his father, who taught him how to cook barbecue. He carried that over to his commercial establishm­ent, Pappa Charlies Barbeque in Cypress, sans the possessive apostrophe, much to the confusion of grammarian­s everywhere.

It’s rare for competitio­n cooks who make the jump to retail barbecue to bring their team names with them. Many competitio­n-team names might charitably be called tongue-in-cheek. A sampling from the World’s Championsh­ip Bar-B-Que Contest at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, which kicks off later this month: “Kookers Gone Wild,” “Kickin Ash Cookers,” “Guzzlin’ Gourmets.”

Pitmaster Joey Victorian jettisoned his competitio­n team name “Dirrty Swamp Cookers” when he went commercial, opting for a more personal and marketable Victorian’s Barbecue.

Nicknames are often the inspiratio­n for unique and creative names. Snow’s BBQ in Lexington is named after owner Kerry Bexley’s childhood nickname, “Snowman.”

Two of my favorite nicknameba­sed spots are on the West Coast. Ragtop Fern’s BBQ is a pop-up that operates outside an apartment

building in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborho­od. The name comes from pitmaster Fernando Carrillo’s obsession with “ragtops” or old-school, convertibl­e low-rider cars famous in the Chicano culture there.

Also in Los Angeles is the inimitable Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Texas BBQ, named after owner and Texas native Johnny Greene. Greene worked at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store growing up, and his wife decided that because of his large size he was more of a “hogly wogly” than a “piggly wiggly.” He later became a pharmacolo­gist, and when he eventually opened his barbecue joint, the name came together.

My favorite barbecue nickname in Houston comes from pirate barbecue purveyor Bookity Bookity Boudain Man. “Bookity,” as he is known to friends (real name: Gilbert), plies his craft from parking lots in the north and west of the city from early evening to late at night. Bookity got his nickname from his reputation as always moving, always hustling. And he makes a great smoked boudain.

 ?? Brett Coomer / Staff photograph­er ?? Wesley Jurena named his Pappa Charlies Barbeque after his dad.
Brett Coomer / Staff photograph­er Wesley Jurena named his Pappa Charlies Barbeque after his dad.
 ??  ?? J.C. REID

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States