When Paul O'Neal was thinking about opening a barbecue restaurant he was pretty much fixed on having it in a converted gas station. Then he found out how much that would cost (just consider the expense of removing gas tanks!).
Ultimately, he opened his barbecue restaurant, The Station BBQ, in a converted Bonanza. And he's really quite pleased with the site — in West Memphis, near where I-40 and I-55 split. It's next to a McDonald's, too, which is a-okay with O'Neal.
"We're at the crossroads of America," O'Neal says, noting the tens of thousands of cars and trucks that go through there each day. As for McDonald's being a neighbor, he says he benefits from the chain's overflow.
O'Neal's partner in the business, which opened in late January, is Anthony "AC" Collins, whose BBQ bloodline traces to Corky's.
The men spent two years perfecting their approach to low-and-slow bbq and concocting one sexy beast of a sauce — molasses-thick, not too sweet, with a spicy finish.
The Station BBQ offers no sauce on the table. For their wet ribs and sandwiches, they ladle it warm over the pork. The sandwich comes on Texas toast. O'Neal says you've got about 8 minutes to eat it before it comes apart.
The menu also features dry ribs, bbq bologna, a wedge salad, tamales and chili, catfish, bbq spaghetti, and a dessert called Ken's Oreo Balls that involves deep-frying and ice cream.
The 4,000-square-foot restaurant seats about 190, and there's a party room.
"Let me tell you about West Memphis," says O'Neal, describing an event that convinced him that opening The Station BBQ was going to be a good idea. It was THE event of year— a super swanky wedding. The governor of Arkansas was there.
"Guess who did the food? Corky's!" O'Neal says.
"People like their bbq, their beans, their slaws."