Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Visiting the Mother Store in Jackson - Reggi's

I've been really impressed by the ribs from the Reggi's franchise in Cordova. I knew that Reggi's Bar-B-Q originated in Jackson, TN, and I'd noticed that Reggi's barbecue was available around the city everywhere from an Exxon gas station to a mobile rig out on Highway 45. So I decided it was time to make a pilgrimage to the mother store that sits in front of Pringles Park.


I discovered that the mobile setup currently selling barbecue on U.S. 45 just north of I-40 is the same rig that Reggi takes to Memphis every May for the World Championship Barbecue Competition.

Pringles Park the home of the Jackson Generals Minor League Baseball team. It is named after the famous potato-crisps-in-a-tube snacks that are manufactured in the the city. The Jackson Generals were once based in Memphis, back when they were called the Memphis Chicks and played at the Memphis fairgrounds in the old Tim McCarver Stadium. The Memphis Redbirds also played in Tim McCarver Stadium before the completion of Autozone Park in Downtown Memphis.

There was some confusion when I pulled up to the flagship Reggi's in front of the ballpark and started taking pictures of the storefront. A man who turned out to be Eugene "Reggi" Pickett himself assumed I was working for the sign company that he had contacted about some wind damage to the sign on the front of his restaurant. I generally try to keep my blog fairly anonymous to make sure I get the same treatment at the restaurants I visit that any random person would receive. But, like with my visit to At The Bistro soul food, I also don't make any attempt to hide what I am doing if someone asks as part of friendly conversation.


When I told Reggi I'd enjoyed the food at the Houston Levee location he immediately wanted to know about the experience I'd had with customer service there. Apparently the Houston Levee location and the Exxon gas station location are both franchises and he worries about how they represent his business. When I went inside to the order counter at his restaurant the staff members all exuded the kind of friendly helpfulness that comes from having an owner who is serious about customer service. While I was eating I also noticed him making the rounds to ask customers how they were enjoying their food.



I never tried the pulled pork at the other Reggi's location, but the ribs I had there were too good for me to pass up a chance to try the ones that Reggi oversaw himself. So I ordered the pulled pork and pork rib combo dinner with his signature spicy hot barbecue sauce on the side. All the food met my high expectations based on my experiences at the Cordova franchise. Reggi came by as I finished my food and I complimented the meat's visible smoke line and smoke flavor. He ended up taking me into the kitchen to see his Ole Hickory smoker and talk about his approach to barbecue.


He said he cooks with a mix of hickory and oak and he is, unsurprisingly, a big believer in low heat, plenty of smoke and plenty of time. Since he is picky about the wood he uses he said he stocks up whenever he is able to. He currently has about a two-month supply.

Wood is loaded into the back of the smoker from behind the store.


Since the restaurant is just seconds away from I-40 in between Memphis and Nashville I'd highly recommend it to anyone traveling by. Just look for the exit for Pringles Park, head south and it will be on your left. You may want to pay attention to if there is anything going on at the ballpark, since Reggi said the place can get crowded on game days. I can understand why. Some barbecue from his restaurant followed by a big draft beer at a Minor League Baseball game seems like a perfect way to spend a lazy summer evening.


Reggi's Bar-B-Q & Wings on Urbanspoon


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