Over the course of seven years, Joe Johnston and business partner Tim Peelen founded the chain of 20 new coffee houses called Coffee Plantation. He sold the chain in 1993 and decided to switch from coffee to food and open a BBQ place.
Joe did his research by visiting many different types of restaurants, noting their decor, food and everything in between. He came up with a business plan for a barbecue restaurant in Gilbert, which is his hometown.
He always loved the restaurants in vintage brick buildings in the oldest part of town. Although he had passed the intersection of Page and Gilbert Roads in Old Town Gilbert many times, he saw a brick building that looked like the ideal place for his new project. At one time the building had housed a church and the front was mainly plywood. The church wanted to grow, so the pastor agreed to sell him the building. The building was constructed in 1929 as a Safeway and Pay’n’ Ticket.
Joe showed his business plan to Tim, whose expertise was in restaurant operations and foods. They decided to have the decor honor Arizona and the 1940s. They tried to keep as much of the original architecture of the rooms as possible while converting a church to a restaurant. The first neon sign created in Phoenix over the last few decades was added to the brick building.
A John Deer tractor of vintage 1948 was rolled into the building when the storefront was being renovated. Over the course of ten weeks, Joe Coplin painted a mural on the south wall depicting the agricultural heritage of the area.
Joe and Tim worked together to create a recipe for Joe’s Barbecue sauce. They decided to use Oyler pits burning only pecan wood to cook their meat. Pecan wood is renewable, grown in Arizona and provides a fine flavor to the meat. Some of the recipes on their menu are from cookbooks and some are family recipes. Tim’s mother provided the recipe for home made applesauce, and Tim added his special mac and cheese recipe.
On January 20 1996, the restaurant opened for business, and over 1000 customers were served on day one.
Second Wind Leisure Perspectives Sunday Stills Photo Challenge photo entry: close up of Joe’s BBQ neon sign in the daytime, July 22, 2018
Cee’s Which Way photo challenge, July 23, 2018 The swooping arrow points the way on this neon sign from Gilbert, AZ.
K’Lee and Dale’s Cosmic photo challenge: Street Photography On N. Gilbert Rd in Gilbert, Arizona, this is but one of many glowing neon signs along the street.