Business

Restaurateur bringing old style to new barbecue joint

WARNER ROBINS — A new barbecue restaurant is coming to Watson Boulevard, perhaps as soon as Monday.

Or is it an old barbecue joint being reincarnated in a new place?

Richard Martin and crew are working to complete renovations of the space at 1801 Watson that last housed Nonni’s bakery and sandwich shop and before that Kathryn’s Bakery so they can open Martin’s Southern Style Barbecue.

Martin moved to Houston County in 1987 to be a sheriff’s deputy. He later sold insurance and, most recently, cars.

But in the back of his mind for years has been the idea of having his own barbecue restaurant.

He grew up toting and fetching and peeking into the pit as his father, mother and uncles ran the original Martin’s Barbecue in Monroe County between Forsyth and Jackson.

“It was just an old pole barn with a dirt floor and open pits where they burned wood to smoke the meat,” Martin said. “They used a piece of corrugated metal to cover it. The counter was next to the pits, and they would lay the meat up on the counter and cut it up right there for the customers. And they had big tubs filled with ice and bottles of Nehi Orange soda and RC Colas. It was only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, like all those old-fashioned family barbecue places out in the country used to be.”

He’s hoping to evoke memories of those old times, and capture the taste of the food, at his new restaurant.“We want it to be like going back in time here to my mom and dad’s time, take it back a little bit and give people good open-pit barbecue to eat,” he said.

Martin said he will cook the meat in an open pit in the parking lot, then bring it inside to cut up and serve.

“We’ll use wood — oak, hickory and pecan — to cook. We’ll have pulled pork, ribs, sliced beef brisket, sausage, smoked turkey, pork chops, plus all the normal barbecue sides like Brunswick stew and slaw. We’ll only use fresh meat, and we’ll make our side items fresh every day,” he said.

Martin will oversee the cooking, and Nieco Roi, who said he has worked at Napoli’s, What-A-Pizza and other area restaurants, will manage the restaurant.

“This will be a family-run business. I expect to start with six to eight people on staff,” Martin said.

Martin had hoped to open this past Monday, but plumbing issues caused a delay, so his new target is Monday, June 8.

“I think this is a great location. We have the highest grossing Chick-fil-A in Middle Georgia on one side and the highest-grossing Subway on the other side of us,” Martin said. “We’ve had so many people stopping to ask us when we’re opening, we had to tape newspapers up over the windows so we could get some work done.”

The phone number for the new restaurant is 923-0800.

INDUSTRY APPRECIATION AWARDS:

The Warner Robins Area Chamber of Commerce’s business development division will host the Robins Regional Industry Appreciation Awards luncheon, a new event, at noon June 12 at the Warner Robins Conference Center, 308 N. Davis Drive.

The event will also serve as the June edition of the Robins Regional Business Forum.

Awards include the Regional New Business Investment Award, the Regional Economic Impact Award, the Regional Community Leadership Award and the Regional Non-Profit Economic Impact Award

Admission is $30 for chamber members and $50 for non-members. Tables for 8 are also available at $250 each. Register online at www.warner-robins.com, or call 922-8585. The deadline for registration is 5 p.m. Monday.

- To contact writer Chuck Thompson, call 744-4489.

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