That’s good barbecue

Published 10:07 pm Thursday, October 29, 2015

Renee Cavazos, an employee at That Good BBQ, shows off a sampler plate at the West Washington Street restaurant.

Renee Cavazos, an employee at That Good BBQ, shows off a sampler plate at the West Washington Street restaurant.

After working on their sauce recipes for decades, Barry and Rhonda Day have finally perfected them enough to open a restaurant.

He is a retired Marine, and she is retired Navy. Her last tour of duty was here in Hampton Roads, and the couple decided to stay here after retiring.

It started just with barbecue sauce. Barry Day was running a golf course in North Carolina, and he made sauces for various barbecue fundraisers held there.


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“The sauce kind of took off, and that got me into smoking the meat,” he said.

After leaving the Marines, he attended the Culinary Institute of Virginia. Earlier this month, he opened That Good BBQ at 239 W. Washington St.

The restaurant is working on the concept of doing a few things well rather than doing a lot of things with mediocrity.

“I don’t like long menus that take you 20 minutes to read,” Day said. “People that are coming for barbecue pretty much know they want the big three — brisket, pork or chicken.”

The menu includes just that: Eastern Carolina-style chopped pork, brisket, or pulled beer can chicken. Each is available as a plate with a side and hushpuppies, or as a sandwich. Sampler platters also are available, as well as banana pudding for dessert.

All meat is smoked in one of three smokers at the back of the restaurant. It smokes for at least 14 hours but preferably 15 or 16.

“We won’t do any reheating,” Day said. “We won’t microwave stuff. It’s fresh or it sells out. All the sides are made from scratch. We have no use for a freezer.”

And then there are the sauces. The hot sauce uses ghost pepper, so it’s not for the faint of heart. The original sauce is a mix of Kansas City and Carolina styles, Day tells folks. There’s the obligatory Carolina vinegar. And finally there is bourbon and bacon, an original creation of Day’s.

“That one is absolutely off the charts as far as popularity,” he said.

There are 10 employees, three of whom are chefs. Day holds an in-house competition for them to experiment with their own recipes.

“That gives them the opportunity to continue their culinary experience without having to follow my recipes all the time,” Day said.

He plans special food on special nights, including Thursday ribs and Friday barbecue pizza, Day added.

Day and his wife did a full remodel of the building, which used to be Cosmic Pizza and before that Sushi Aka. It includes a sign stating, “Welcome to Our Hole in the Wall” — pointing to an actual hole in the wall.