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bbq for the bigger picture
story and photo by Shaila Creekmore

Six days a week, Bishop Edward Garrett can be found serving up smoked ribs, pork and brisket at the newly opened Bishop’s Bar-B-Que on Highland Drive in Jonesboro. Then, on Sundays, he delivers the word of God in the small restaurant with the hope that by the end of the year, those six days of working will provide a church building in which his parishioners can worship.

“First off, I’m a pastor,” said Garrett. “My plan is to raise enough money to build a church.”

Garrett has served as the pastor of Jesus Christ Apostolic Church since 1999, the congregation of which has had to meet in several different locations through the years. Garrett recently decided to do something about the church’s lack of a physical place to call home; in March, he opened Bishop’s Bar-B-Que at the corner of Highland Drive and Church Street to work toward building a permanent church for the congregation.

The 40-member congregation hopes to break ground on the new building by the end of the year and is currently looking for land. The church will continue to meet at Bishop’s Bar-B-Que until the new location is complete.

Garrett’s original barbecue business was lost to a fire three years ago after being open for a little more than a year. That tragedy was followed by a diagnosis of cancer and subsequent treatment for Garrett, so he decided to take a break until recently, when his son decided he was ready to go into business with him.
“My son wanted to come back home and help me reopen the business,” said Garrett. “He and his wife moved back from Russellville and help me run it.”

Garrett’s son, Edward, along with Edward’s wife, LaKisha, help cook, run the front counter and serve each day at the restaurant, all with their three small children in tow. Garrett’s wife, Sheila, is also involved in the day-to-day operation of the business.

“We are a real family restaurant,” said Garrett. “We also have my cousin, Volita Garrett, who works here and my (other) son’s girlfriend, Tamika Jefferson.”
In his first month of business, Garrett said he is happy with the turnout of both former customers and customers finding him for the first time.

“I think probably 40 to 50 percent remember me from over at the other location,” he said. “If you haven’t been in yet, come in and check us out. I used to tell people, ‘It may not be the best barbecue in the world, but it will do until they find it.’”

A distinct difference between Garrett’s restaurant and other barbecue restaurants in town is his sauce. He said while most places use a vinegar-based sauce, his is a sweet sauce made from a tomato base. The sauce is available by the bottle.

Bishop’s Bar-B-Que’s lunch and dinner menu includes barbecue favorites such as chopped barbecue sandwiches, beef brisket and ribs. Other favorites off the grill include chicken, Polish sausage, Bishop’s deluxe Polish with a blend of onions and peppers, barbecue bologna and barbecue nachos.

“People here in Jonesboro are accustomed to the chopped sandwiches, but we do a lot of bologna, polish sausage and ribs,” said Garrett.

In-house orders can be placed as a plate, combo or sandwich with a selection of sides that include baked beans, slaw, French fries, fried cauliflower, onion rings, corn and potato salad. For those needing large orders or who want to pick up dinner to go, family meals are available with a slab of ribs, a whole butt or chopped butt, which is served with two sides and a loaf of bread or buns. Meat can also be ordered individually.

“We sell quite a few of the family packs, and last Saturday, we sold 16 whole butts – just people stopping by to pick up something for dinner,” said Garrett.
In its first month in business, Bishop’s Bar-B-Que smoked an average of 48 pork butts and at least three briskets a week on its grill, which is located just outside the front door of the restaurant. Each butt is cooked for approximately eight hours. Garrett said he cooks throughout the day, always keeping the grill hot.
“Everything we do is in-house and is fresh,” he said. “We don’t cook days out then keep it in the refrigerator until it’s needed. We try to keep it as fresh as possible, rather than selling somebody something that’s three days old.”

On Friday and Saturday mornings, Bishop’s Bar-B-Que starts off with breakfast at 7 a.m. with traditional Southern favorites, such as bacon, eggs, biscuits, gravy, grits and hash browns. On Friday nights, the all-you-can-eat buffet is open with for just $10.99. Items on the buffet change each week and are announced early in the week inside the restaurant. Items that have been featured to-date are rib tips, spaghetti, chicken wings, deluxe Polish sausage, chopped pork, macaroni and cheese and banana pudding.

Bishop’s Bar-B-Que, located at 216 Highland Drive, is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call 268-0726.