For Phil and Wayne Baker, finding a home in Gonzales for their Texas barbecue business was a dream come true.
Now that the dream has become a reality, Gonzales and all of Texas is better off for it.
On Wednesday, Aug. 15, Baker Boys BBQ will be celebrating its third anniversary out on Hwy. 90. In the three short years Baker Boys has been in existence, it has skyrocketed to the elite atmosphere of being recognized as one of the best barbecue joints in all of Texas.
That’s not just our opinion either. A few months ago, Baker Boys received the prestigious honor of being named by Texas Monthly as one of the Top 50 barbecue places in the state. It has been a meteoric rise for the relatively young business, but Wayne Baker says it never would have happened had it not been for the help of the county of Gonzales.
“My dad (Phil) and I had been kicking the idea around of opening our own barbecue place for a long time,” Baker said last week. “I was living in Luling, but Luling did not have anything that really met our needs. We started looking around, and we ran into Carolyn from the GEDC at the watermelon festival. She invited us to take a look at Gonzales.
“We came over and looked around, but we really wanted to be out on the highway,” Baker continued. “They showed us the old Hodges Construction building and I immediately liked the size and location. But that’s when the county, the GEDC and the city went to bat for us. They helped us get low interest loans to help finance our restaurant equipment, and really helped us out on our sprinkler system.
“If not for the help of the EDC, the enthusiasm of all the people in Gonzales who worked to make this happen, and the can-do attitude of everyone involved, Baker Boys might not be here today.”
The story of Baker Boys goes back a long way. Phil first started cooking brisket and sausage over five decades ago. He worked for his uncle Doug Boysen at Boysen’s Food Market, quickly becoming an expert in pork sausage. Over the years Phil entered and won a number of competition barbecue contests, and soon his son Wayne decided to get involved.
“I think it was in the late ‘90s when I first started cooking with my dad,” Wayne said. “It was in the Luling Roughneck cook-off, and I was hooked.
“We started doing more competitions, and then started talking about possibly opening our own place some day.”
It might have remained just talk, but in 2013 Phil lost his wife Sheilah to the insidious disease of Leukemia. Phil had been looking to retire, especially after spending a number of years working in the oil fields, but the loss of his wife moved he and his son Wayne in another direction.
“We had been doing some major fundraisers in Luling three or four times a year for up to 1,000 people or so,” Wayne said. “People were referring to us as the Baker Boys at the competitions and fundraisers, so when we got serious about opening the restaurant it was kind of a no-brainer that we would call ourselves Baker Boys.”
Phil and Wayne closed on the Hodges Construction property in January of 2014, then spent a year-and-a-half preparing the restaurant for its grand opening on Aug. 15, 2015.
“The day we opened was one of the most amazing days of my life,” Phil said. “It really meant a lot to me to see everything come together.”
“On the first day we opened there was a long line waiting outside just to get in,” said Wayne. “I couldn’t believe how much the community came out to support us. It was unbelievable. This town is amazing for the help it gives.
“My only regret is that we didn’t have more food cooked for that day,’’ Wayne joked.
Wayne then reminisced about the past three years.
“The day I got the call from Daniel Vaughn at Texas Monthly telling me we made the Top 50 is a day I’ll never forget. I was picking my son up from school and when I got the call I did a fist pump and a Texas yeehaw! Other than the day I married my wife and the day my son was born, it was the greatest day of my life. To realize your dream is one thing, to be acknowledged for it is another.”
Then he got serious.
“Let me tell you why I think Gonzales is a great place to do business,” Wayne said. “We have not had any employee turnover here in at least a year-and-a-half; that’s dedication.
“Plus, all of the great promotion that the people in the community and the town fathers put in only helps local business. This is a great place to operate a business, and I look forward to our future doing business in Gonzales.”