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  • Writer's pictureS. Dani


Updated: Mar 1, 2018

If you are a barbecue lover, then Mr. Ray’s BBQ Shack is for you! Growing up in Houston Texas I am no stranger to BBQ. In fact, my family is known for throwing parties that include everything from ribs, brisket, sausage, rice, mashed potatoes and my personal favorite side dish mac & cheese. Recently, I had the opportunity to try Mr. Ray’s famous BBQ and I can honestly say that Mr. Ray aka “The Pitt Master” lives up to his nick name. He has the best ribs I have ever tasted and I wanted to share my experience and a little bit of his story with you.

Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack came from humble beginnings. It originally started out as a trailer and grew from there. Mr. Ray’s BBQ was a hot commodity and his customers encouraged him to open up his own place. In 2011 after retiring from the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, him longtime friend Maxine Davis, and co-owner and retired NFL player Herb Taylor decided to transition from the trailer to an onsite location. They wanted to bring a business back to the area they were from, thus birthing Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack at the Old Spanish Trail location, which has been kicking ass for 7 years straight! Let me tell you, Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack opens at 11a.m. so I interviewed him at maybe about 10:15. Around 10:30 customers started lining up so I went outside to ask why were they there so early? Everyone answered the same way; “Mr. Ray has the best BBQ so we don’t mind.” You know your BBQ is popping when this happens!!!

How did your mentor Mr. RiverFalls impact your life and your business?

“A deputy sheriff introduced me to Mr. Rivers and he took me under his wing for two years.” “He was well known in Third Ward. When people even come here now and they notice his picture on the wall, its like verification that the BBQ is good.”“ At that time I was still working for the Harris County Sheriffs Department, I did security work at different clubs and I was always intrigued and would talk to the guys selling BBQ from their trucks because I would BBQ for my friends on Sundays and they would tell me that I could sale it because it was good.” “I never really thought too much of it but one day, I was tired of working the clubs and I decided I would give it a try, there was a BBQ pit posted on a bulletin board for $500/$400 so I bought it and a friend of mine, James and I went to club “King Leo” and sold out in a couple of hours so I tried it for several more weekends and I did well so I went from working security to selling BBQ at night.”

Now you are a pit master, but growing up as a kid, where you on the pit?

“No I wasn't.”

What meal would you suggest for first time clients?

“If you want BBQ, we have that but we also have fish and shrimp as well and we have been successful at both.”

What is your favorite meal?

“My favorite meal would be the ribs and chicken.” “ The chicken is very moist; we smoke it to the bone." " Also the ribs, and any of our meat, you don’t really even have to have teeth to eat it because it is so tender.”

Why did you decide to change locations?

“We have outgrown this location. It really has been a great spot for us and I actually like this location but to meet the demands, we felt like it would be best suited for us to get into a larger facility.” “ This one is 1900 square feet the new one is 33,000 square feet so we will have a lot more space.” “A lot of people have told us that they come by during lunch or dinner but they see that it is crowded so they keep going and that isn’t something that we want." " We want them to be able to stop and enjoy our food.”

Where is the new location?

“The new location is 3929 Old Spanish Trail about a quarter of a mile from this location. So maybe about two minutes.” “We are building a pit room in the back. “Our pits right now are located outside and now we will have on inside.” “We will continue smoking with the same pits and using the seasoning.” “Some people think that just because we are changing locations that means things are changing but they will not!”

Lastly your motto is “Smoking good with a whole lot of soul,” how did you come up with this and what is the meaning behind it?

“The credit for that goes to co-owner Herb Taylor.” “ He came up with it because I would always teach him that BBQ isn’t something that you can cook fast.” “You have take your time and do it slow. It isn’t anything to be rushed through.” “ The soul part is more or less about when your grandmother would cook some food.” “ It always taste better when you add some tender loving care to it.” “We try to treat each customer as if they were family. We don't treat them like a number because it isn’t about that.” “Its about treating customers with respect.”

Symone, what did you get?

Well Mr. Ray was so kind to offer me a rib meal that included toast (which is great because I am a bread lover.) I had a choice between three sides: macaroni salad, potato salad and spicy rice, I choose the spicy rice. The ribs were the best ribs ever; Mr. Ray wasn't lying when he said, “you don’t need teeth to eat any of the meats.” It was so delicious and tender. The meat slide right off of the bone! In my dining plate, there were some containers of BBQ sauce so I poured it on my ribs and my rice. Strange right, who pours BBQ sauce on top of rice? Well this girl does and I did not regret it. My mother’s side is from Louisiana so I am also searching for something spicy. I wont lie, at first I thought that it would be too spicy because I did go overboard with the sauce however, the spices from the sauce blended really well with the rice and I washed it down with water because I was thirsty, not because my mouth was on fire. Next time I go back, I will be trying the fish and shrimp because your girl loves seafood too!!! The new location will be opening up March 2018. For more of Mr. Ray’s menu, check out his website Raysbbqshack. com You can also follow Mr. Ray on social media accounts




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