About eight years ago, my husband, Scott, came across a building for sale in Cassville, Missouri, that seemed like a good deal, so he bought it not knowing for sure what he would do with it.
At first, he considered opening a flea market, but ended up deciding to open a restaurant with his younger brother, Joel, and his wife, Tanya. While growing up in Bentonville, Arkansas, Scott’s parents, Gil and Sue Curren, had owned a restaurant called “Gil’s Burger Bar,” and Scott worked there during his teens, gaining a lot of experience.
The new restaurant became a family affair, beginning with the renovation of the building. Scott and Joel did some construction work to reconfigure the space, while other family members helped with stripping wallpaper and painting. Joel & Tanya, Scott, and Sue, experimented with recipes to develop the restaurant’s menu with a Texas barbecue theme. Almost everything they sell there is homemade, including their three proprietary barbecue sauces.
When it came to decorating, we wanted you to have a lot to look at while wiping the delicious barbecue sauce off your chin, so we all contributed and many of the items in the restaurant have a story behind them. Most of the taxidermied mounts were a result of Scott’s hunting and fishing hobbies.
There are many old license plates in the restaurant, but two of them hold special meaning as they were the last plates on their grandfather’s truck. My sister-in-law, Tanya, is a talented painter and she hand-painted canvases as well as cowbells and cowboy boots. She also designed the restaurant’s logo. Uncle Don Curren is a woodworker and made some pig-shaped cutouts that Tanya painted to use as chalkboards.
Joel used his carpentry skills to make the front counter, using wood that his father had saved from their church when it was remodeled. The weathered tin and reclaimed wood along the front came from an old lumber mill that was on his parents’ land in Missouri. Their father, Gil, made the paper towel holders for the tables. Pigs were part of the restaurant from the beginning, but loyal customers have contributed even more of them over the years. That’s just a sampling of some of the stories behind the decor.
BBQ Station continues to be a family affair as many of our family members work there. Joel and Tanya own and manage it now, and their mother, Sue, has worked there from the beginning, contributing her own restaurateur experience.
Gil’s sister, Deanna Johnston, designed their website (link below). It has also had the benefit of giving all of our kids the opportunity to gain some work experience.
BBQ Station offers Barbecued Ribs, Pulled-Pork, Brisket, Chicken and Sausage. The meats are cooked the old-fashioned way, hand-rubbed and smoked more than fourteen hours over real hickory. One of my favorites, the St. Louis-cut ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, just the way I like ’em. Their unique “Baked Potato Salad” is a customer favorite, and other sides include cole slaw, green beans, cornbread, baked beans, pinto beans, and (chilled) potato salad. For dessert they have brownies, cobblers and ice cream.
They also offer fresh salads with your choice of warm smoked chicken or pulled pork on top, and a wide variety of salad dressings.
They have even named a few menu items after regular customers who originated them, such as the “Marple Bowl” or “The Huse” hamburger. Which reminds me, they also have amazing hamburgers! The burgers, famous from Gil’s Burger Bar days, have been reincarnated at BBQ Station. Want some heat? How about made-to-order BBQ Nachos with jalapeños?
On a low-carb diet? No problem. You can have any of the meats with green beans and a side salad, or if you choose an entree salad topped with warm and tender smoked meat you won’t feel like you’re missing anything. I personally really enjoy the contrast of the warm smoked chicken on the cool, crisp greens. Very refreshing on a hot summer day! BBQ Station has even more to offer than I can list, with additional specials that vary throughout the week or season. I truly believe there is something for everybody.
BBQ Station has excellent ratings on a variety of restaurant-rating services. People come from long distances to eat there and they get catering jobs from near and far. If you haven’t already visited then I encourage you to, but please note that they are closed on Sunday and Monday. I’m proud of the great job that Joel and Tanya have done in running BBQ Station and making it something we can all be proud of. Now that our daughter is working there, she reports multiple customers each day approaching Joel and Tanya to rave about the food, or inquire if Food Network has been there yet. It is definitely worth the drive!
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