By B.C. Manion
A wrap-around porch and the sweet smell of barbecue smoke invite passersby on SR 52 to take a brief detour and grab a bite to eat at On Q Smokehouse Grill.
Linda Bailey, who lives between St. Leo and Dade City, has been enjoying the foods prepared by Willie Flott ever since he set up his mobile business on the vacant lot next to the wood-frame house in St. Leo about a year ago.
Flott set up the temporary shop to get to know the community and to find out whether there was a demand for the kind of food he serves, which is primarily, but not exclusively, barbecue.
When Flott found the community was receptive to his offerings, he decided to rent the house at 33030 SR 52 and do some renovations to get it ready for his business.
Bailey is glad Flott decided to settle in.
“I was one of his first customers,” Bailey said. She enjoys his barbecue chicken, his greens, his catfish and pork tenderloin – but she’s simply wild about his fried green tomatoes.
“I really haven’t had them like this since my mom made them for me when I was a girl,” Bailey said. “That was a long time ago.”
Paul Brenot and Marcia Stone shared a meal there recently, when one of the specials that day was a Fried Green Tomato BLT.
Stone said she enjoyed the fried green tomatoes and found the bacon to be smoky and meaty. Brenot reveled in the restaurant’s atmosphere.
“I love sitting outside here,” he said. “The weather we’re having right now is exquisite.”
Flott said he built the porch on the restaurant and reconfigured some spaces inside before he moved his business into the house.
“I personally thought the porch was my biggest selling point,” Flott said. He thinks it creates a welcoming ambience and lures patrons — especially when the building is lit after dark.
Flott said he prepares his barbecue by rubbing a mixture of spices onto the meats and cooking them over charcoal on custom-built championship smokers.
“We don’t put any sauces on anything. We want the customer to taste the flavor of the meat,” he said.
Customers can choose from a variety of sauces, including one concocted by Flott. The sauce, which has a mustard base, is also available by the bottle.
The menu includes sandwiches and burgers, salads, appetizers, platters, kids’ meals, beer, wine, coffee, tea and soda.
Besides fried green tomatoes, appetizers include asparagus fries, corn nuggets, fried pickles, fried mushrooms and chicken wings.
The restaurant also sells bulk items and offers catering.
Flott said he can handle parties of any size and has catered funerals, church picnics and other gatherings.
The name of the restaurant is a play on the phrase, “on cue,” which is how Flott wants to serve up his food — prepared properly and served right on time to satisfy his customers.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
For more information about On Q, call (352) 668-4821 or visit www.onqsmokehousegrill.com.