Back in BBQ: Willcox restaurant to reopen after cigarette butt sparked blaze

Back in BBQ: Willcox restaurant to reopen after cigarette butt sparked blaze
Willcox's Big Tex Bar-B-Que is getting ready to reopen after a fire last year. (Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - In the small town of Willcox, just by the train tracks, a dining car sits empty.

The tagline for Big Tex Bar-B-Que is “a place where smoked BBQ is done right," but it hasn’t been done at all inside the restaurant off East Maley Street in months.

“It’s over, everything done, everything you’ve worked for is gone," said Jeff Willey, owner of Big Tex Bar-B-Que.

That’s what Willey thought in May of last year when a customer threw a cigarette butt into a planter just outside the restaurant. Willey said that afternoon, his business of twenty years was closed with caution tape.

Willey continued to do catering and serve some meals from a trailer parked across the street from the restaurant Sunday. Inside the newly remodeled restaurant, signs were being hung on the wall.

A bird's eye view of the rebuilding of Big Tex Bar-B-Que from October of 2018. (Source: Facebook/Big Tex Bar-B-Que)
A bird's eye view of the rebuilding of Big Tex Bar-B-Que from October of 2018. (Source: Facebook/Big Tex Bar-B-Que)

“You always get the people from out of town and everywhere around too, but a lot of the locals, you know everyone who is coming in,” Willey said.

Big Tex Bar-B-Que will reopen Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m. The owner is proud of the progress in the project that he called long and hectic.

“It’s everything, it’s my life, it’s what I got," said Willey. “Everybody’s ready, everybody’s ready for Tuesday morning.”

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