Family has always been at the center of Smokey John’s, and keeping their father’s memory alive through food and service comes naturally to Juan and Brent Reaves. As with most restaurants, the global pandemic hit the business pretty hard, but the Reaveses found ways to adapt and give back through the worst of it.

Tell me about the first person who taught you about barbecue.

“Smokey” John Reaves is our dad, and he started smoking meat in our backyard as a hobby. He used to be a contractor, insurance salesman, and mortgage banker, among other things. His signature move to ensure a referral after a roof job or remodel was to gift his customers smoked meats—usually a ham or turkey. When he started getting more requests for hams and turkeys than roof jobs, he realized smoking meat was his one true passion.

Do you remember a backyard or a barbecue joint that started your barbecue obsession?

Our backyard and our restaurant.

What message are you trying to share to your customers through your food?

Our mission is to nourish the community through the joy of food, the strength of faith, and the spirit of family. Food, faith, and family. That’s what we’re sharing.

As a professional pitmaster, are you a BBQ Freak just like the rest of us? 

We will try to smoke anything at least once.

When was the last time you ate someone else’s barbecue besides your own?

About a month ago.

What’s the most surprising BBQ dish you’ve eaten?

Smoked rattlesnake.

What’s the best beverage to wash down BBQ?

A Mexican Coke or a Blue Moon.

What’s a tool you use in cooking that might not seem like an obvious barbecue tool?

A sifter. We sift the coals. 

What recommendations do you have for someone new to Texas ’cue?

Always start with the brisket and ribs. If they start you off with pulled pork, be suspect.

Want to connect with some of your favorite Texas pitmasters, like Juan and Brent? Join our members-only TM BBQ Club Facebook Group.