By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – Downtown will be filled again with the smell of smoked meat with the grand opening of Earnest B’s Barbecue on Tuesday.
The restaurant is located at 206 Troy St., which most recently was Romie’s Barbecue. The site also was once home to The Rib Cage, Boondocks, Le Meson D’or.
Earnest B’s is the same restaurant that was in Amory. Owner Earnest B. Morgan had planned to keep both locations open, but decided to concentrate on his efforts in the All-America City.
“I have to thank the people of Amory and Monroe County for supporting me all these years,” he said. “We wouldn’t be where we are without them. We hated to move, but this opportunity came and we couldn’t let it slip by. Tupelo is a destination for a lot of people, and we wanted to bring our unique barbecue to even more people.”
Morgan said his barbecue is like no other in Northeast Mississippi.
“My speciality is Texas-style ribs, which is a combination of the meat, the dry rub, the smoke . … it’s a bold taste,” he said. “And we serve large portions of food. Not only that, another secret is the sauce. It’s called Momma’s Sweet Heat. My mother, Melissa Strong, came up with it and taught me how to make it 10 years ago.”
Morgan will leave most of smoking to his father, Wilburn Strong, whom he calls his master chef.
“The meat will be cooked low and slow over an open pit,” Morgan said.
In addition to ribs, the restaurant will serve beef brisket, pork, chicken, turkey, nachos and sides like cole slaw, baked beans and potato salad.
The restaurant has a capacity of 95 people. Because of his religious beliefs – Morgan also is a pastor – the restaurant will not be serving beer or liquor. The bar will be ripped out, replaced by additional seating.
“Our motto is family, food and fun,” he said. “That’s very important to us in keeping it alcohol-free.”
Starting out small
Morgan attended a bible college in Dallas in 2004. While there, he also worked for a Ford and Jaguar dealership. He also discovered what Texas barbecue was all about.
He moved back to Amory in 2008 and worked for Larry Clark Ford. Back at home, he dabbled a little in making barbecue for his church, then for friends, and all of them liked what they had.
“The guys at Larry Clark really encouraged me to open my own place,” Morgan said.
“I started selling barbecue on the side of the highway,” he said with a laugh. “It was just me at first, doing everything.”
He soon taught his wife, Cicely, how to barbecue, as well as other family members and friends.
“We feel like there’s no barbecue like Earnest B’s barbecue,” Morgan said. “It’s like no other around here.”
The Morgans also have a catering company, Cissy B’s.
“We’re very excited – and a little nervous,” Earnest Morgan said. “I never really thought I’d be in Tupelo. But we’re ready.”