KINGMAN - For the last two months, the sweet scents of burning hickory and cooking meat have tantalized the denizens of downtown Kingman, drawing them en masse to 420 E. Beale St., where Bubba and Tammy Floyd serve as the able stewards of Redneck's Southern Pit BBQ.
The husband and wife team are no newcomers to the world of barbecue, nor to Kingman, having settled here 26 years ago from Tennessee. But it wasn't until 2004 that the Floyds decided to introduce Kingman to the Memphis tradition of pulled pork, baked beans, country coleslaw and, of course, full racks of mouth-watering, slow smoked ribs.
"We built a homemade barbecue trailer, and the trailer had a whole barbeque kitchen on the back of it," Bubba said. "Our very first event we ever did was the 2004 Mohave County Fair, and we built that barbecue trailer so we could test the market, to see what the response would be."
That response proved to be an overwhelming chorus of "More, please."
"It was a very positive response," Bubba said. "(We went) four days without sleep, seeing the people, friends - that they actually came out and supported us, it's was just very overwhelming."
Thus a local legend was born, and the Floyds spent the next five years catering rodeos, weddings, gun shows, home and garden shows and, of course, the annual fair. But as their reputation for gastric delights spread throughout the city, the caterers started hearing what would become a familiar refrain.
"Our clientele would be upset they could only have it once a year," Tammy said. "They would just be adamant, 'You need to open a restaurant, you have no idea what you have here.' We were starting to believe them after the third year."
So, in the fall of 2007, the Floyds began looking at leasing space on the second floor in the then-vacant main space of the Central Commercial Building at 112 N. Fourth St. Shortly afterward, however, they learned of the availability of the Beale Street property, a 1950s-era addition to the main Central Commercial building, which had the twin benefits of street-level access and its own parking lot.
The decision to lease quickly followed, and the Floyds then set about the months-long task of redecorating the interior to match their unique vision of what a southern-style barbecue restaurant should look like.
With help from family and friends, the Floyds used lawn chairs, handmade benches, metal awnings and wall murals to essentially recreate several settings they traditionally associated with barbecue, including a sections designed to resemble Grandma's kitchen, the front façade of a rural barbecue shack, and even a series of benches designed to emulate eating barbecue in the middle of a public park, complete with paper towel rolls.
"(We wanted to) just feel like people can come in and step back a little bit ... to where it was comforting and cozy, when things were simpler," Tammy said.
There's even a section of the restaurant decorated with all the best examples of "redneck recreation," including NASCAR decals, a talking deer head, and everyone's favorite animatronic singing fish ornament, the Big Mouth Billy Bass.
"Any respectable redneck is going to have the Billy Bass," Tammy said.
If anything, the kitschy interior only serves to emphasize the genuine quality of the menu, which is all homemade from family recipes.
"This is not fast food," Tammy said. "All the sides are made fresh and the peach cobbler is fresh-baked. It's a labor of love."
"We're cooking all night and preparing throughout the day," Bubba added.
As they've felt out their clientele, the Floyds have expanded the menu to include western-style barbecue items, such as beef brisket, in addition to their southern favorites.
"We're trying to bring the southern and western styles together," Tammy said. "We're not locked into either one; we're pretty flexible."
In fact, their unique style of barbecue might best be described as a fusion of the more traditionally tangy, pork-based Southern tradition with accommodations made to the sweeter, more beef-oriented sensibilities of the West - though some things, Bubba noted, are simply too sacred to mess with. "A majority of the foods that are cooked out West use mesquite - we don't do that," he said. "These are slow-smoked with hickory. We included the beef because we got so many calls for beef brisket."
Community response has been overwhelmingly positive, with patrons coming from as far as Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City to sample what the Floyds are cooking up.
In response, they've attempted to stay abreast of their customers' appetites - and their financial situations. "We've been here for 26 years, and we've seen Kingman grow. Now we're in an economic downturn and we see what's going on out there with local people, so we're trying to keep pricing fair and affordable, a good value," Bubba said.
"Everything is structured for the local people. If we get some of the tourist trade, that's just icing on the cake."
The Floyds plan to show their appreciation for their customers this Saturday, when they plan to hold their grand opening, complete with a disc-jockey, live music from local band The Asphalt from 4 to 5 p.m., and other fun events scheduled throughout the day.
But while the Floyds have come a long way from their humble caterer's beginnings, they acknowledge that Rednecks Southern Pit BBQ couldn't have happened without help from a multitude of friends, high and low. "This is a family operation, from our immediate family and our children to our brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, friends ... and our lord and savior," Bubba said. "He's blessed us. It's truly a blessing."
Rednecks Southern Pit BBQ is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information on next week's grand opening, or for other queries, call (928) 757-8227.