With a family rooted into the Texas barbecue industry, Will Banks decided to make his way into the family business about six years ago with his highly lauded food truck, Blue Willy's Barbecue, parked just steps from the downtown Fort Lauderdale Courthouse.
Early on in the summer, Banks packed up his truck and made his way toward a new storefront just up the road in Pompano Beach. Now Blue Willy's Barbecue Market offers the same acclaimed barbecue in a traditional Texas-style counter-service -- and air-conditioned -- brick and mortar location.
Banks talks to Clean Plate Charlie about the new spot, Texas barbecue, and family roots in the meat-smoking industry.
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Open for business on August 1, the spot was welcomed with busy crowds. While Banks initially had a hard time keeping up with demand, he's figured out what he needs to do to keep up.
"We're really busy, but we've caught up to our consumption needs presently," he said. "We've historically run out of some of the barbecue items from time to time; it's the nature of serving things [that] aren't cooked to order everyday."
While the location -- and A/C situation -- has changed, the menu has remained the same. Brisket, pulled pork shoulder, chicken, and sausage are available by the pound and half-pound, as well as ribs by racks or half-racks, all of which are served from the counter on butchers paper.
The meats may be smoked with different barbecue styles -- the pork is Carolina, ribs are Memphis-style without the sauce -- but just like the brisket, the concept from straight from the Lone Star State. Banks, who is originally from Tyler, Texas, serves it up this way, because its his family's tradition; his grandfather owned a Texas-style barbecue shop
"Serving on paper with counter service is absolutely positively a Texas thing," he said. "The Texas barbecue industry was birthed out of the butcher industry. Butcher shops started barbecuing and found it was more profitable, but that's why they did and still do serve it by the pound on butcher's paper."
Even though Banks grew up around smoked meats, he is fairly new to the business. He started up his well-known truck six years ago after having what he refers to as a "corporate meltdown." For him, a rise in popularity in barbecue combined with a desire to get out of the grind presented the opportune moment to turn his lifelong hobby into a career.
"Barbecue is hot right now; really hot," said Banks. "It's being driven a lot from TV with BBQ Pitmasters and the Food Network; it's a resurgence. I may not have actually started up the truck if the market wasn't going that way, but I did have that feeling that barbecue was on its way toward getting big. Now restauranteurs are even getting into barbecue."
With buzzing crowds straight away, it would be safe to say that South Floridians are also happy that Banks chose to make the career change.
The new spot is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
Blue Willy's Barbecue Market is located at 1386 S. Federal Highway in Pompano Beach. Call 954-224-6120, or visit facebook.com/bluewillys.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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