James Nuñez just signed the lease and got the keys today to open a bricks and mortar location for his Texas Beef and Cattle Company. He’s been serving up his smoked meats at festivals around town like GarlicFest and the upcoming Dayton Barbecue Rodeo on April 9th at Yellow Cab, while working his day job as a financial advisor for Agora Investments.
Starting next week you’ll be able to stop by 1101 West Third Street in the Wright Dubar Village to attend a perspective membership night and tasting. Nuñez explains he’ll be using a model similar to the Fifth Street Brewpub co-op, where BBQ lovers can become members and receive discounts, special member only pricing and invitations to special events. More information will be posted on their web page.
While James was waiting on the lease paperwork, he took some time to answer some of our questions:
JN: I moved to Ohio back in June of 1994 My wife (at the time) had enlisted in the Air Force. She was an Ohio native so this was her first and last duty station. (Not Common by any stretch) that amount of time in one place allowed me to establish my profession as an investment professional and my kids had an opportunity to grow up in one place.
You’ve been catering in town since for years, what made you decide to open a restaurant?
JN: I’ve been smoking BBQ for most of my adult life. I joined the Navy back in 1984, I was stationed in Virginia and they really had nothing like what we grew up with in South Texas, in Norfolk Virginia, or Mayport, Florida for that matter. Being a certified welder in the Navy, I built a smoker and began smoking meats. We’d bring mesquite back from Texas in large quantities (But not by today’s standards) to have on hand until our next trip home on leave. That’s how it really started. Most of my friends were from Texas so we hunted, fished and hit the beach together and we ate a lot of BBQ and seafood. When we moved here in (94’ and a few years had gone by (lots of BBQ in those years) we had friends over one Easter and I smoked up a brisket and a couple other meats for the gathering. After appreciatively listening to all the reviews my oldest asked why I didn’t sell it among a few other notable observations. So that’s kinda how that started the ball rolling we did some festivals at The Fraze, Swamp Romp Blues Fest the Fiesta Latino event they used to do. And we expanded from there with word of mouth and referrals. The past three years we have had significant growth to the point that last year I more than doubled the capacity of our smoker which then led us to the next stage needing, a commercial kitchen and while visiting that realization, figured some seating would be cool too.
JN: You mean great BBQ? I don’t know what others do around here for good BBQ, I mean I have tried it all and I can pinpoint what the issues … well let’s leave it at that for now. If you want GREAT BBQ there are a multitude of variables that affect the outcome. Time and temperature are key but 30+ years of experience and making large quantities is not the same as throwing a brisket flat on the back yard smoker. The right equipment and the experience to know how to use it is pretty important. Using the right spice set with the particular smoke source. I could go on for quite a while but you get the idea. Here is an analogy, It’s a lot like brewing beer! You have to have a passion and some talent and a lot of patience to create products that are appealing to many people. In their (the brewers) case, they start with water, in my case I start with a slab of beef or pork and other select cuts. From there, well, it’s an artisans pallet, you’ll have to come and decide for yourself whether it’s a painting or a work of art. I’ll let the public decide. I just know it is an absolute pleasure sharing a little bit of where I come from with the community I have lived in for the past 20 years and formalizing the next step in this process is really exciting. I’m humbled at the responses we have received over the years and really appreciate all the support and encouragement that has led us to this next step. We hope to be all you expect and more.
JN: We’re going to start with what we do best a simple menu will allow us to enter the marketplace and get really good on our service as quick as possible. One of the things we complain about in our own dining out experiences is the lack of quality service…We’re fixin’ to change that! At least at my place. Most likely we will start with lunch and dinner where we will feature our Mesquite Smoked beef brisket, our Mesquite smoked pulled pork, our Mesquite Smoked Texas Sausage We will have our sides which are Borracho beans (we’ll select a local brewery for this beer) our Tejano arroz (Mexican rice) our yellow tater salad and we’ll probably do green beans to start. These are our signature items and what brought us to the dance so we’re hitching our cart to this horse.
From there we can begin to expand our offerings., we’ll probably compliment that with a free range chicken offering and we will incorporate pork ribs (not baby backs) and we’re bringin’ a South Texas staple to Dayton! Mesquite smoked beef ribs!. The ribs and chicken offerings will be limited offerings and we will ease ourselves into these as the staff and I get comfortable with the new digs. Being from the Texas Gulf coast I grew up on seafood so make no mistake gulf coast seafoods will see their place on our menu in the not too distant future. They’ve already made their appearance at our tents. We are also the only BBQ place that is doing Bison Brisket! It’s raised, harvested, and processed in the Greenville area and is an exclusive offering. We’ll incorporate that in on some of our days in a few weeks after opening. Breakfast and Sunday brunch will also be incorporated. We have a limited offering in store for you and again it will be what brought us to the dance first and then we’ll expand it a bit but it will still be a limited short menu. Stick with what you know and what you do great!
JN: As you know I have always been a supporter of the downtown community. My office has been located downtown for most of the past twenty years. Over the years I have been involved in various nonprofits, their boards, various committees and have supported the revitalization efforts here for most of that time. Part of what we want to do with Texas Beef and Cattle Company’s next phase is to further support our community. Our Co-Op style format (look for news on our Facebook page) will be driven by members that will buy a little part of their own smokehouse, we will have a member committee that will be elected every couple of years or so, we will have exclusive member events, we will offer our members a program that they can feel is a tremendous value to themselves for their support of our enterprise while We organizing events in our neighborhood and encourage various groups to make us a pit stop, but we also want them to be part of how we support our community we want to source locally sure but at the same time a community garden is even better! sharing in the farming chores will be great, reaching out to our members to share their skills and their talents and bringing them to bear on our own communities needs. We want our place to be a gathering place for all to enjoy and all to receive and all to give and take a little as needed. We want our employees to be partners in our efforts, to be paid good wages to have opportunities and benefits so that they can feel great too! If we can start with this small endeavor we can begin to make a difference all over. At the very core of this is my desire to share a little bit of my culture and flavors from where I grew up. It’s the least I can do for all that Dayton has given me.
This is our vision this is how we see this process unfold and this is what we feel is going to be a worthy enterprise. We hope ya’ll feel the same way!