J.R. covers his words with barbecue sauce
NORMAN, Okla. -- Jim Ross has often talked about restaurant quality butt-whippings while calling matches on Raw, and now our fans will get a chance to find out just what that means. On Wednesday, Ross opened the first ever J.R.'s Family Bar-B-Q, located just 20 miles south of Oklahoma City.
"I had a strong desire for a place of my own to come to and watch people have smiles on their faces, get a good meal and enjoy the fellowship and the camaraderie," said the restaurant's proud owner.
J.R. cites his upbringing for initially getting him involved in food. If it weren't for the neighborhood cookouts he attended when he was younger, the desire for his own establishment may never have taken root.
"When we had company over for cookouts, it was a chance for families to get together," he said. "My pals were there to play football with or shoot hoops or play baseball. The cookouts were more social occasions than anything else and the food was always great."
Despite traveling for the last 34 years in the wrestling business, Ross has yet to find a match for his mother's and grandmother's cooking. He will share the wealth with his customers as much of the menu is made up of Ross family recipes.
"We're not playing baseball or football or shooting hoops anymore, but the same feeling is here," he said, determined to ensure a homey feeling at J.R.'s.
While seekers of a friendly environment are sure to be impressed with the hospitality, our fans will also be satisfied with the décor.
"Some of the biggest stars in the business donated their attire. Triple H's boots, Ric Flair's boots, Shawn Michaels's outfit from WrestleMania, an outfit from Undertaker, boots ‘Stone Cold' Steve Austin wore in three WrestleManias, Mick Foley's last official Socko and Kane's last mask, to scratch the surface."
Also on display are pieces that make up one of the most impressive John Wayne collections of memorabilia in the country, as well as a room dedicated to Mickey Mantle.
"A lot of the decoration is also pictures that I've had the privilege of being involved in over the years," he added, stating the photos and WWE pieces span four decades. "And there's a real beautiful display of my induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in the entryway."
J.R. was surprised at how supportive Superstars were, stretching from classic Legends like Dusty Rhodes to Superstars still building their legacy like Edge. When he asked for donations, he expected only autographed photos. When he finished collecting, Ross had a gathering of items that he never thought people would give up.
"I can't thank all those guys enough. Their images are here in a respectful fashion, like they deserve."
Not only do the walls accommodate our fans, but the heart of J.R.'s Family Bar-B-Q beats the same way WWE's does.
"It is much like the infrastructure of WWE in that it's a team effort," he explained. "Success is always a team effort."
Ross hopes for his restaurant to grow someday, but he insists on sticking to a formula for quality.
"It's like WWE, which has a great track record of building Superstars. You focus on one Superstar and you cultivate that Superstar's image. Superstars have to deliver the goods as well, or it doesn't work. We're going to develop one star restaurant, the original J.R.'s in Norman, with the goal in mind that if we are successful, we are going to build others."
J.R.'s Family Bar-B-Q seats 130 people. The kitchen can handle smoking 100 slabs of ribs at once, courtesy of a giant smoker and hickory wood. Ross describes it as "Old school barbecue." Going beyond the traditional, the menu also features things like barbecued pizza, quesadillas and soft tacos. There are also healthy choices, which many barbecue restaurants don't provide.
The birth of J.R.'s Family Bar-B-Q can be traced back to J.R.'s Cookbook. Virtually all of the menu's recipes come either from the publication or from Ross's family.
"We didn't want to settle for average and we wouldn't settle for average. Everything had to taste homemade and authentic. So I was involved in every phase of [the restaurant's formation] except for the stages of physical construction. I was very much hands-on involved with the recipes. When your image and your name are on it, I just refuse to settle for average."
J.R. even came up with most of the wording for the menus, which features sports-related items like Superstar Salads, Hall of Fame Ribs, Body Slammin' Sandwiches, Tag Team Partner side orders and Finishing Maneuver desserts. He also contributed writing for the official site at http://www.jrsbarbq.com/.
"We've been having the equivalent of football two-a-days," he said about the preparation. "We've been cooking and serving. It's like doing scrimmages. And now it's game day. At 11 this morning we kicked off, and it's real and the season has begun."
J.R.'s Family Bar-B-Q also provides catering. It is open seven days a week between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. For more information, call (405) 360-4BBQ.
"It's real exciting for me. I've eaten at barbecue places all over the world and I just knew what I thought tasted good."
Customers can also visit the restaurant's Web site to order J.R.'s famous sauces, jerky and other products.
"It's really a great place. We think our food is going to be outstanding and our staff is friendly. Like we say here, a smile and a thank you goes a long way."