Local eatery ranked one of the best ‘black-owned restaurants’ in the country
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IDAHO FALLS – A local barbecue restaurant is getting some national attention.
Grandpa’s Southern BBQ at 1540 W. Broadway in Idaho Falls was listed as No. 2 on BuzzFeed’s 30 must-try black-owned restaurants in America.
Owner Lloyd Westbrook tells EastIdahoNews.com he doesn’t know how it ended up on the list, but he’s amazed.
“I’m always amazed…(how word spreads) in the big world out there,” Westbrook says.
“We’ll continue to do what we do. I don’t foresee any fireworks going off because of it.”
The recognition comes as the restaurant celebrates its 25th year of business. Westbrook is planning several events to coincide with that anniversary.
One event in the works is a soul food extravaganza in one of the parks. He’s also trying to find a venue to host a dessert party. An exact date and location have not yet been determined, but he hopes it will happen this fall once the coronavirus outbreak dies down.
Since 1995, Grandpa’s Southern BBQ has been offering customers a taste of authentic southern cooking. The menu includes gumbo, brisket, pulled pork, fried chicken, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and collard greens.
Some of the most popular items are brisket, pulled pork and ribs.
Though there are other local eateries that advertise as southern barbecue restaurants, Westbrook says his establishment has the only truly southern menu in eastern Idaho.
“You can buy a machine, fill it with meat, set a few dials, go home and go to sleep, come back the next morning and you’ve got barbecue. That’s not southern barbecue,” he says. “Southern barbecue takes time.”
Westbrook’s experience with southern cooking began when he was growing up in Kentucky. He remembers gathering wood and stoking the fire for his parents.
“I never did any cooking, but I was always involved,” Westbrook says.
He joined the army after high school and moved to San Francisco. He had family ties in Idaho Falls and would often drive through on his way home to Kentucky.
During a visit in 1978, Westbrook says there were no barbecue restaurants around.
“Barbecue is an important part of the rest of the country. There are people who look for that familiar aroma that barbecue has,” says Westbrook.
He moved to Arco in 1981 and got a job driving bus for the Idaho National Laboratory. It became the initial location for Grandpa’s Southern BBQ 14 years later.
During his time in Arco, Westbrook says he was always uncomfortable with the idea of having a restaurant there.
“Southern barbecue in Arco just didn’t make sense to me,” Westbrook says. “The population at that time was only 1,016. I thought, Where are my customers going to come from?”
Westbrook remembers 1999 as the year that changed everything. It was the 75th anniversary for Craters of the Moon, and there was a big celebration. A reporter from Boise visited the restaurant while covering the event and ended up publishing a story in the Idaho Statesman, Westbrook says.
Customers began coming all the way from Boise to sample Westbrook’s menu. Grandpa’s Southern BBQ became a popular catering vendor for weddings and other events.
He and his family moved to Idaho Falls the following year, and the restaurant reopened on Broadway in 2003.
Customers from all over the world have eaten at Grandpa’s Southern BBQ over the years. Westbrook says he enjoys meeting new people and his relationship with customers is the most rewarding part of owning the restaurant.
“If you go online and read our customer reviews, that says it all for me. I don’t take any credit. I just do the best I can do,” he says.
Grandpa’s Southern BBQ is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday with an 8 p.m. closing time Friday and Saturday.