Stonewall’s providing decade of barbecue in Pearl River County
Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 2, 2016
For the past 11 years, Stonewall’s BBQ has been operating in some form or fashion within Pearl River County.
Currently located at the intersection of Main Street and Canal Street in Picayune, founder Tony Smith, said the original brick and mortar store opened in Poplarville in 1995. Now there are franchise locations in Hattiesburg, Oak Grove, and one in Georgia, all operated by independent owners. Smith estimates he’s the only Picayune business owner to have franchised an establishment.
Smith began his career in food service working for his dad’s fried chicken place, but in 1993 he began testing the waters in barbecue cooking. It all started with a food trailer in a Poplarville parking lot. Smith said he began by bringing what barbecue would be sold for that day, but that grew into bringing the smoker along. The Poplarville location is now owned and operated by another individual.
The Picayune location, the only one he currently owns, has been many things through the years. Smith recalls it used to be a gas station, body shop, fried chicken restaurant, donut shop, produce stand and a used tire store.
When Smith was considering renovating the building to suit his needs, an inspection by the Health Department resulted in the inspector suggesting he just tear the building down. But Smith moved forward with renovations anyway, and when the building was ready for another inspection, Smith said the representative was surprised by the outcome.
Having a private business comes with certain perks, one of which is the ability to set the hours of operation. Stonewall’s is open only three days a week, Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“It creates that anticipation and it’s worked for us,” Smith said.
The only time the business is open on the weekends is during the biannual street festival, which Smith said brings customers from all around.
In fact, some of those customers have contributed to the décor by sending in license plates from across the country.
Smith said he employs two people, who typically man the Picayune location in addition to himself during business hours. While there are no immediate plans to expand, he is thankful for the devoted customers he currently has.