Willcox BBQ restaurant burns in fire

Willcox BBQ restaurant burns in fire
Big Tex BBQ in Willcox, owner working to get the business back up and running. (Source: Tucson News Now)

WILLCOX, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The owner of a landmark restaurant in Willcox is working to bounce back from a fire that gutted the Big Tex Barbeque last week.

Restaurant owner Jeff Willey's motivation comes from his customers, who often travel from Nogales and Tucson to Willcox to get a taste of his barbecue.

"Well this is the best barbecue around," said Kathryn Fridlind.

Fridlind and her husband made a stop at Big Tex Barbecue on Thursday on their way back to Tucson, in hopes of getting one of their favorite meals. "It's not the dead type of barbecue that just falls off the bone."

Instead they found, the charred building surrounded by caution tape.

"We were really sad to see it wasn't open."

Smoke consumed parts of the Big Tex restaurant last week, but not the kind of smoke owner Willey expected to see in his business.

"It was just totally engulfed in flames," he explained. A cigarette d ropped in a flower pot sparked the flames. "All of the duct work, A/C duct work, everything was burned."

Now he's working on taking the next step.

Willey has served Southern Arizona barbecue for fifteen years. He said it's one of a kind in Willcox.

"It's the place to go eat, or it was," he said.

As he picks up the pieces - his love for the job keeps him moving forward, "You have to like it to do it, cause if you don't like it - there's no sense in doing it."

Part of that next step includes his food truck.

He drives it around for catering, but in the meantime, he's planning to set up shop next to his restaurant.

"For a daily lunch service we could try and do to help out, and feed the community," he said.

Though he's unsure of when that will happen, he's ready to get back to helping his customer, like the Fridlinds, on their trip back to Tucson.

They said they're already looking forward to that next meal, but before they d rop in, Fridlind said she'll call first.

Willey hopes to be back up and running in the next couple of months, when all of the repairs are finished.

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