Smiths open barbecue restaurant in Natchez

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &045; Mike and Nancy Smith did not expect to move to Natchez when they came to help their daughter open a restaurant.

Residents of Columbia, where Mike operated a successful grouping of car dealerships that ranged from GM to Ford to Chrysler, the couple now have their own Natchez restaurant &045; Natchez Best BBQ and Hot Wings, located inside Go-Mart, corner of U.S. 61 South and Highland Boulevard.

&uot;We came to Natchez to help our daughter, Ashley Smith, open Catfish One in May 2004,&uot; Mike said. &uot;We loved Natchez so much we decided to retire here.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

As a Woodville native, Mike already knew something about Natchez. Moving closer to home was another draw for him.

As for Nancy, she now has become so settled in and sold on Natchez that she said, &uot;I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.&uot;

In March, the couple fulfilled their dream of putting together their culinary talents &045; an old family recipe for barbecue sauce that Nancy knows, Mike’s special rubs for the meat and the years of backyard cooking that had been his hobby during their married life.

In early March, they opened their Natchez Best BBQ in the Go Mart complex after looking around for a place that suited them. &uot;We heard this space was available, and that sparked us to look here. Tom and Ward really work well with us, and it has been great.&uot;

Brothers Tom Graning and Ward Graning own the Chevron gas station that includes the large convenience store and eatery. To get the Smiths and their foods as part of the business has been good, Tom Graning said.

&uot;It has been a tremendous help in bringing extra customers in the door,&uot; Graning said. &uot;It’s been a partnership and great so far.&uot;

The location fits well with the quick service the Smiths provide for customers, they said. &uot;We can serve a lot of people quickly,&uot; Mike said.

Further, the tasty food has caught on in the community, and the return customers have given the Smiths confidence about their product.

&uot;We have people who eat with us three times a week,&uot; Mike said. &uot;We’ve already done some catering, too, and we welcome that.&uot;

The menu includes ribs, chicken, pulled pork and burgers, with side orders including baked beans made from the Smiths’ own recipe.

&uot;We do mustard greens with jalapeno cornbread, too,&uot; Mike said. Favorites with their restaurant patrons to date have included the brisket, stuffed potato casserole and pulled pork, he said.

The restaurant has been an added connection to their new hometown, Mike said. &uot;Opening this place has made us feel a part of Natchez,&uot; he said.

Many of their customers have commented on the taste of their foods, he said. &uot;We barbecue. We don’t smoke. Our barbecue does not have a strong taste or aftertaste, and many people say they love the tenderness.&uot;

Pleased with their first few months in business, the Smiths open Natchez Best BBQ and Hot Wings Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. They are closed on Sunday.

By mid September they hope to have the drive-through completed. The telephone number is 601-446-8588.