BBQ powerhouse celebrates 35 years in business
The story of C&J Barbeque is an interesting one. In 1981 Chip and Jo Manning bought a convenience store down on Harvey Road near Highway 30 in College Station, Texas. Chip sold gas, cigarettes, beer and soda. Soon after opening, he put in a
By 1997, Chip and Jo made the decision to get out of the convenience store business and converted the store to a deli style BBQ restaurant. It’s a small store with an even smaller kitchen. The whole space is 2,200 square feet. There is a small staff that serves up an impressive amount of food each day. The original always seems to be every- one’s favorite. The loyal customers come by to eat and tell the staff stories of back in the day when they would stop to eat, pick up a gallon of milk, and share an infamous Chip Manning story. This store was truly a family affair. Chip’s mother Evalyn used to help out doing the books and ringing up the customers.
In 2000, they won the Reader’s Choice Award for best BBQ in the Brazos Valley…and winning every year after that including 2016, making it 17 years in a row. In 2001, they were honored with the Newman 10 Award for the fastest growing small business. In 2002, they won the Best of the Brazos award for BBQ and have also won every year including this past year (2016) making it 15 years in a row. All three C&J locations combined are now cooking an average of 2,000 pounds of meat a day.
In 2002, a man approached the Mannings about opening a second location in Bryan, Texas. It was a big decision because this location was 8,400 square feet… four times the size of the current restaurant. After some deliberation, they decided to open the location, and the Bryan store was born. Because the Bryan store is the company’s largest store, all catering and all large deliveries (100 people or more) are handled at that location. They also have three private rooms that can be reserved for special events. This location also works directly with an organization called the Tailgate Guys during home football games. This location has handled up to 26 large deliveries within a 5-hour time block. The staff and management at this location work extremely hard and enjoy being the go-to store.
In 2006, they were approached about opening a third location at a new shopping center at the corner of Southwest Parkway and Wellborn, only one mile from Texas A&M. They decided to do it and the third location was opened. That location is around 4,000 square feet. Due to its proximity to Texas A&M, that store has to pay close attention to the Aggie baseball, softball, and basketball schedules. (All three stores get ham- mered on Texas A&M football games). This location is the only one to have a drive-thru window. That has taken on a life of its own. This store does a great job of keeping the customers happy and getting what they want in the most convenient way possible.
The success of the restaurants can be attributed to an amazingly loyal and dedicated staff, quality food, low prices and the Mannings’ commitment to their staff and community. We have many managers who have been with the company over 10 years, Chayce Barthels
(GM at Harvey), Justin Manning (GM of Southwest Parkway), John Cryer (Manager at Southwest Parkway) and Mark Carrillo (Manager at Bryan). Irene Kling is their beloved bookkeeper who has also been here over 10 years. Their daughter Reagan worked at the old convenience store when she was a teenager and is now back in the business as the Director. The Mannings think of their employees as family and friends and have enormous respect for them. That respect is shown true by the consideration and care that the man- agers and staff give the customers. There are regulars that come in each and every day; they come back because of good food and friendly service.
Chip and Jo have more time to spend with their grandchildren these days. Their daughter (Reagan) and son (Justin) are taking over the family business. Reagan and Justin enjoy attending the annual NBBQA conference and meeting others who work in their field. This past October 17th, C&J Barbeque celebrated 35 years in business. As a thank you to their loyal customers, C&J offered 35% off of every- thing in the restaurant. It was a huge success, and it was an awesome way to give back to everyone who supported the business for the past 35 years.