It’s a cool crisp early morning as Chris Waldridge begins tossing large amounts of chopped hickory logs and bark into a 52 year-old all brick smoking oven stained and charred from years of old fashioned traditional barbeque smoking.
The 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. window is Chris’s favorite time of day and the most enjoyable part of work for him because it allows him to think and just be alone from the stresses and worries of life.
Chris has been working as a cook at Thomason’s Barbecue for the last eight years.
“I couldn’t ask for a better job and boss,” Chris says. “You laugh about something every day here.”
But maybe it’s not a job.
“I like to think we are all a big family here,” owner Frank Gibson says. “We probably joke around a little more than we should sometimes.”
Frank has kept Thomason’s style and process of cooking and preparing food as original as possible.
“That hand pulling is labor intensive; no one does that anymore,” Frank says. “I know there are easier ways, but this is how we are going to do it.”
Frank believes his customers really appreciate the quantity and extensive time they put into their products specifically their barbecue baked beans. Since Frank bought Thomason’s, his business has grown every year for the past 18 years and has gained more and more national recognition from newspapers, magazines and television shows.
“The beans is the best item we have going for us,” Chris says. “If anybody comes here, they will be back, and if they don’t, they don’t like barbecue."