It’s all in the secret sauce –
Photo and story by By Patricia Beech –
JT’s Stovetop BarBQ Company in West Union has won the “Best Wings in Ohio” award for six of the past seven years. This year is no exception.
The tiny carry-out restaurant, that uses its own secret sauce, also took third place for “Best Ribs in Ohio”.
Owner Terry Young takes the win in his stride. “We enjoy it, its a lot fun to compete, and if we win, we win, but, we’re in the business to make money, not to compete,” he says. “When you don’t get a check on Friday, you got to be hustling all the time, there’s only so many hours in a day, so you do what you have to do.”
Young spent several years working in corporate America before giving it up to return to his original passion – food.
“I was in high school when Bob Gallowitz came to West Union,” said Young. “I was the third person he hired, and we had an awesome crew at McDonald’s. It was a perfect job for me because it set the pace for what I would do when I got older.”
Building a good crew and keeping his employees happy is another talent that seems to comes easy to Young.
“I try to keep my workers happy. They keep everything running smoothly while we do a lot of work on the road in the summer, going to fairs and parks where we vend and compete. I don’t have a time clock, my crew knows when they’re supposed to be there, and they are there.”
Heather Mingee, who has been a cashier and cook at JT’s for two years says she loves her job.
Mingee and her fellow employee Stacy Gilkison, also a cook and cashier, work Tuesday through Saturday preparing catering and carry-out orders. “We stay so busy,” Mingee said. “Especially with catering orders.”
Young’s 11 and 15 year-old sons also help out with the business during the summer months.
“My kids know what their summers are going to be like – meeting people and working,” says Young. He says he wants his sons to learn to deal with different types of people,
“The rudeness and kindness of human beings help shape us, they’ve got to be able to handle people and situations while they learn about the rewards of working hard.”
Seventeen years ago, when Young started his little business, barbecue wasn’t the cultural phenomenon it is today.
“Back in those days we didn’t have a go-to place to get party-type food,” he says. “You couldn’t get chicken wings in our county, you had to drive to get them.”
Young saw a clear opening in the market. He hung out his shingle, and began dishing out wings, ribs, and pulled pork dripping with his secret sauce – which he bottled and sold across nine states for many years.
“We stopped selling our sauce because the market became saturated,” he added. “After the internet took off, there were tons of people getting into the barbecue sauce production, it became too time-consuming.”
Time is something Young values. He says it figured largely into his decision to start his own business.
“Working for myself gives me the opportunity to spend time with my family, to go to my sons’ ball games and not miss any of the stuff that really matters.”
JT’s Stovetop BarBQ Company, located on the corner of Washington and Main Streets in West Union, is open Tuesday–Friday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.