Episode 59 – Grandpa’s Southern Bar-B-Q, Lloyd & Loretta Westbrook
Bringing the South to Idaho
Lloyd and Loretta Westbrook have been serving east Idaho southern soul food since 1995. After taking an early out from his job at the Idaho National Laboratory, Lloyd decided to pursue his dream of bringing southern barbeque to east Idaho. Against all odds, their first location in Arco was a hit. Travelers would come long distances just to eat their food and word got around that they served the best barbeque in the state.
Unfortunately, in 2002 there was a devastating fire on the desert around Arco. It decimated the vegetation and as a result, the Idaho wind would whip up dust storms that were so severe it would close the highway. Arco businesses paid the toll, including Grandpa's Bar-B-Q. It was at this point that Lloyd and Loretta decided to move into Idaho Falls and re-open the restaurant there.
“You put a little love and special spices in there,” Lloyd says of making soul food. He says that he learned how to cook during his youth watching his family and helping. Although he left to serve in the Army and do some other work, the resturant business lured him back in.
When Lloyd and Loretta speak of being minority business owners in Arco they said, “It's interesting”. Lloyd tells stories of local challenges as well as support. “It was the travelers that really supported us,” Lloyd said. “For all of us it was an experience,” Loretta said. The Westbrook's did what they could to open up a dialogue around what everyone had in common rather than focus on the differences. Once they moved to Idaho Falls in 2002 they continued to face challenges, including having their building set on fire. “I think it opened people's eyes in the community,” Lloyd said, “since then there have been no other overt happenings like that.”
Despite the challenges of the stay-home order for the state because of the coronavirus, they have maintained business, although it's not as busy. They are open for curbside pickup and will do some delivery. “We had to be creative, we needed to cut hours,” Loretta said. They are hopeful going forward that business will come back and that diners will show up. “We've had to go into our savings to cover our expenses,” said Loretta.
Despite the challenges they have faced they remain committed to serving the residents of east Idaho and beyond with love and passion for the work. When asked about what advice they would have for future business owners, Lloyd said, “have your ducks in a row”. They recommend having a plan and do your homework before you go forward to make sure you set yourself up for success.
For more information on Grandpa's Bar-B-Q check out their website at http://grandpassouthernbbq.com/.
Or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Grandpas-Southern-Bar-B-Q
Thank you to James at Disruptive Productions for editing the show. Find out more about his services at https://www.facebook.com/disruptiveproductions/