While the official grand opening isn't scheduled to take place until
next week, owner Tom Payne had a "quiet" opening, he said, so he and
his staff could have somewhat of a practice run at it before then.
This week, Payne and his wife, Peggy, who is well-known for Peggy's
Place bakery, said the practice time had been helpful. While Tom
Payne has been smoking meat and serving it to the public for a
while, and Peggy is known for her wonderful desserts and her
catering business, an actual restaurant is a new concept for them.
After their first service, they said it had gone well, but there
were issues they would talk about and change for next week's
The restaurant is primarily Tom's venture, but last week when he
sat down to talk about this new chapter in his life, he laughed and,
speaking about his wife, said: "You know she's going to be here."
Payne said opening a restaurant was something he would never have
imagined doing a few years ago, but then something happened.
"It was Father's Day, and the kids bought me a smoker. So, I was
going to fix dinner with it," he laughed. "It was the worst food I'd
ever tasted! We ended up going to McDonald's and eating; it was that
But, the experience drove Payne to figure out just how to smoke
meat and have it come out right.
His first mentor was Mike Mills. Mills is the owner of the 17th
Street Grill in Murphysboro and also the owner of Blue Smoke in
Manhattan, N.Y., plus three restaurants in Las Vegas. He's written a
variety of books on the art of smoking and barbecue. Payne said the
books were excellent because Mills goes into great detail on how to
Payne said he started working with the recipes in Mills' books.
Then he started changing them to make them his own.
Over time, he's come up with his own ways of doing things, and
it's turned out to be very successful.
As Payne developed his own recipes, several folks encouraged him
to start entering competitions, and he finally decided to do so.
He and Chad Baston started working together and entered local
competitions as Fat Boys Bar-B-Que.
Two years ago they competed in the Main Street Lincoln barbecue
competition and did very well. They took first in pulled pork and
second in chicken. But Payne said the prize they were most proud of,
the one they were hoping for and won, was the People's Choice.
"It's good to know that six judges thought your food was the
best. But when everyone there says your food is the best, that
really means something," Payne explained.
After the competition, Payne said he started hearing people say
he should sell his food. He decided to give it a shot and last year
set up his stand in the Stuffed-Aria Pizza parking lot.
He started out doing it once a month, then twice a month and
finally every weekend. He said it really surprised him that people
just kept coming back.
He remembered one man who drove to Lincoln from Springfield when
White's Auction House had their sales.
"He would stop on his way to the auction and get a sandwich,"
Payne said. "Then, he'd be back after the auction for another for
the trip home."
Last year during the annual Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival in
August, Fat Boys was a vendor at the Up in Smoke event on the
"That was the biggest day and half," Payne said. "Chris Graue
really pulled off the impossible, getting that many competitors at
the first event."
As a vendor, Payne didn't compete, but he was one of the busiest
people there. The aroma of barbecue and wood smoke filled the air,
mouths watered and longed for a bite, and Payne was more than happy
to serve the huge crowd.
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So, earlier this year, when Payne heard that Chad's Blind was
closing the restaurant portion of their business, he said it just
seemed like the perfect opportunity.
"Tiffany (Twente) had closed her kitchen. We thought about this
large dining area and the kitchen and thought it would be perfect
for us, and it might help her out a little bit too."
Payne said Twente was happy to talk to them and gave them a deal
on renting the space that made it all the more attractive.
Payne said the kitchen has most everything they needed. There
were a few things they had to add, such as a larger ice maker. But
he said they got one that is large enough it can be shared between
Fat Boys and Chad's.
The restaurant is not going to sell liquor, as that would
interfere with Twente's business.
"We don't have and don't want a liquor license," Payne said. "If
folks want to have a beer with their dinner, they can get that from
The restaurant will be open daily Tuesday through Saturday from
10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Payne said there will be lunch and dinner
menus, takeout and eventually delivery as well.
The dining room will also be open to special events, especially
on Sundays and Mondays, with the agreement generally being if the
guests buy Fat Boys food, they'll get the meeting space free.
The menu, he said, would of course feature an array of delicious
apple wood-smoked meats; sides will be made by Peggy's Place; and
Peggy's desserts will also have a spot on the menu.
In addition, the menu will include some lighter items such as
salads and other meatless dishes.
And of course, you can't have good barbecue without a good sauce.
Fat Boys has their own recipes and sells them by the container for
home cooks, as well as providing them with food at the restaurant.
Payne said the sauces are really his wife's concoctions. She has
worked with them until they are just perfect. At the restaurant
there will be two sauces. One is a traditional barbecue sauce, and
the other is something special whipped up by Peggy. Her husband said
it is reminiscent of a honey mustard sauce but better, and it is
good on any kind of meat.
So in the end, what would his mentor and teacher Mike Mills think
of Payne's progress in barbecuing?
Always laughing, Payne said he's met Mills, considers him a
friend, and they've shared food.
"I like his food but don't like his sauces," Payne said. "He
likes my food, and he likes my sauces."
It would seem Mills has done his job well.
If you've not tried it yet, be sure to stop in sometime next week
and have a taste of Fat Boys Bar-B-Que. We're betting you won't walk
[By NILA SMITH]