Business

Local man looks for redemption in barbecue restaurant

Jed’z BBQ has taken over the space along Bay Street that has been vacant for about five years. - Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo
Jed’z BBQ has taken over the space along Bay Street that has been vacant for about five years.
— image credit: Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo

The restaurant rests on Bay Street west facing a panorama that includes Sinclair Inlet and the Olympic Mountains.

But it is the view inside the front door that inspires the owner of Jed’z BBQ.

For Jed Minton, 48, he hopes the restaurant, which opened in late November, is a story of redemption. A divorced father of three, he wants his children, who are pictured near the entrance, to be proud of him.

“They’re ready for their daddy to rise up,” he said. “I think that makes the difference. I feel quite responsible to make this go for my children’s sake.”

Minton is reticent to go into details, but he said has been homeless “off and on” for the last seven years. He acknowledges it would have been wise to open Jed’z with “$50,000 to start.” Instead, he said he is grateful to several community members who helped put him in position to start.

“It was miraculous,” Minton said.

That began last year when the Salvation Army loaned him the machines to produce kettle corn, which he sold to people driving by the restaurant. That enabled him to generate $2,500 he needed to place a deposit to lease the nearly 2,400-square-foot building, which has housed several restaurants since it was built in 1953.

Others donated an array of supplies, including paint to upgrade the building that had been vacant for about five years. That was the impetus behind the sign near the entrance that reads “Ex nihilo.” That is a Latin phrase meaning “out of nothing.”

“I thought that was kind of cool because this restaurant has been pretty much nothing for five years and my life was pretty much nothing for seven years,” Minton said. “We’re trying to make something out of nothing and I’m trusting it is going to work.”

The idea behind a barbecue restaurant did not come out of nowhere, though. Both of the previous two tenants also focused on barbecue. Smokey’s shuttered shortly after its late 2008 opening. Its predecessor, Fat Rascal’s, closed in April 2008 because of non-payment of state taxes.

“I know that Fat Rascal’s had a good product,” Minton said. “I used to eat here five days a week.”

This is Minton’s first foray into the restaurant business. He previously spent 14 years as a youth minister and five years working in construction in Alaska. Before he “lost his fortune” in 2007, Minton said he regularly would dine out and believes he has “great taste” for quality food. He hopes to bring the same to Jed’z.

“I’m offering passion and the best food I can,” he said.

Minton said he already has had some learning experiences through the process. Jed’z is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, but has closed early a few times before the restaurant sold out of food.

His finances combined with an effort to keep products as fresh as possible also means the menu is more limited when it comes to one item.

“If I had more cash flow, I would do more chicken,” Minton said. “Chicken seems to dry out quickly. I don’t like to serve a dry product.”

Jed’z offers traditional barbecue favorites, such as brisket ($11.94), pork ($11.94) and St. Louis ribs ($13.94). The restaurant also sells sandwiches and mondo burritos. All of those cost $9.54. Minton also offers an assortment of side dishes and meals for children.

He hopes it is a combination that translates into a story of redemption — for himself and the restaurant.

“This is my hometown,” said Minton, who graduated in 1983 from Christian Life School in Port Orchard. “My dad and mom were ministers in the 1980s at Christian Life Center. I believe this is where I’m staying.”

 

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