Papa KayJoe’s Bar-B-Que Goes Family Style

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Papa Kay Jo's BBQ

Papa KayJoe’s Bar-B-Que is truly a family affair. Even the restaurant’s title references several family members, says owner Devin Pickard.

“Webb Pickard was my grandfather, and we called him Papa. Kay is my oldest daughter, Kaylee, and Joe is my son, Jordan.” The Ruby-Q, a kid-sized barbecue sandwich, is named for his youngest daughter, Ruby. “Everybody in my family has a hand in this business in one way or another,” Pickard says.

He and his wife, Angie, started the restaurant in 2000, and over the years it has gained popularity beyond rural Hickman County – in part by making its customers feel like family. Walls lined with local memorabilia such as license plates, old photographs and maps give it a homey atmosphere. “People want to leave their drama behind when they come into the restaurant, so we try to provide a laid-back, friendly atmosphere,” Pickard says. “We want them to enjoy the experience.” He often calls out a friendly hello to customers from the open kitchen, where he’s preparing barbecue sandwiches.

The restaurant’s specialty, hickory-smoked pork barbecue between two freshly cooked corn cakes, is the brainchild of Pickard’s maternal grandfather, James Pollock.

If You Go...

Location: 119 W. Ward Street in Centerville (temporarily closed due to a fire), and 10015 Hwy. 46 in Bon Aqua. Until they reopen on Ward Street, you can visit their temporary location at 142 N. Central Ave. in Centerville.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday
Phone: (931) 729-2131, (931) 670-2100

“It was his idea that we fry the cornbread in lard or bacon grease to give it flavor,” Pickard says.

To go along with the sandwiches, Papa KayJoe’s offers three house made barbecue sauces – hot, sweet, and mild – and also makes both vinegar-based and mayonnaise-based coleslaw, catering to varying customer tastes.

“Some people like the homemade slaw right on the sandwich along with the meat, while others prefer it plain,” he says.

Every day, Pickard cooks the meat in a smoker behind the restaurant. “Table salt is the only seasoning we use in the cooking process,” he says. “We take Boston butts, salt them and put them on the grill over hickory wood.”

Pickard later shovels red-hot hickory coals underneath the pork butts, shuts the lid and allows the meat to smoke for 10 to 12 hours. Then he takes the butts off the grill, puts them in pans and cooks them for another 8 to 10 hours.

Papa Kay Jo's BBQ

“We pull them when they’re hot, and the meat falls right apart because it’s cooked long and slow at about 225 degrees,” Pickard says. “We add back some of the pork drippings to create the texture and consistency we want. The meat is very fine and really easy to eat, not choppy or stringy.”

To round out the menu, Papa KayJoe’s also serves up plenty of country-staple side items, such as turnip greens, white beans, baked beans and potato salad. “My mother, Debbie, makes all our homemade pies, which are always fresh and wonderful,” Pickard says.


  1. Julie White

    September 17, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    I moved from Bon Aqua to Missouri. I would give anything to have some of your food right now. I miss it,and the sweet sauce? Let’s just say you need to seriously think about bottling it and selling it.Amazing food.

  2. Betty

    November 7, 2018 at 10:41 am

    be passing through later today. Do you still run a special price on Sandwiches on Wednesday?

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