A barbecue restaurant is opening on Fort Worth's east side with all your favorite smoked meats, but also something you don't usually find at a BBQ joint: smoked chicken salad.
It's called Big Boyz Pit Smoked BBQ and More, and it will open in the space at 6513 Brentwood Stair Rd. once occupied by Wilson's BBQ, which closed in January after suffering from a fire.
Now remodeled, the 1,000-square foot restaurant will open on June 20. It's a cozy spot, seating about a dozen people. There's also a drive-thru window.
Big Boyz is the first brick-and-mortar venture for owner T. J. Ragster, a Fort Worth native who got his start in the barbecue business two years ago with a food truck that he did on the side from his full-time job as a security supervisor.
"I'd been barbecuing for years and years, mainly in my backyard for family and friends," Ragster says. "People kept telling me I needed to start selling food on a professional level and that’s when I got the truck."
For the smoked chicken salad, Ragster devised the recipe with his mother.
"We were sitting in her kitchen trying to come up with a new dish, something that no one else was doing," he says. "We worked on it together and tried different recipes, over and over. When we got it right, we both said, 'That’s it.'"
The dish is the restaurant's featured item. It'll be served in a salad presentation with Club crackers, or else as a sandwich on a croissant. For the past several months, Ragster has been selling it through social media, announcing pick-up locations on Facebook, and has already built up a big demand.
"I think we've sold about 10,000 bowls of it through Facebook," he says. "It's all been word of mouth — just me saying, 'This is where I'm going to be at what time,' and we usually sell out. The effects of social media can be good or bad but it's been nothing but a blessing for me."
Other menu items include barbecue basics: sliced and chopped brisket, pork sausage, St. Louis-style ribs, and smoked chicken. Meats will be smoked over white oak wood in a custom-built smoker.
Sides include potato salad, pinto beans, and mac & cheese. They'll also serve a handful of specialty items, like mac & cheese topped with chopped brisket, and baked potatoes stuffed with your choice of meat. Desserts include peach cobbler and a rotating assortment of cakes.
Ragster has endured a number of health conditions, including kidney failure. He says that cooking has helped him overcome those ailments. "For me, cooking has been therapeutic," he says. "I feel like it's given me a second lease on life."