There’s some good food in this neighborhood.
Those driving by the southwest corner of Collier Parkway and Parkway Boulevard, in Land O’ Lakes, will see smoke rising into the sky. The smoke is accompanied by an enticing aroma — produced by Brown’s Bar-B-Que Pit’s smoker, cooking up barbecue on the weekends.
The Brown Family has set up shop at the location for about three years now, with nothing more than the smoker, a tent and chairs — and a TV to watch college football on Saturdays in the fall.
That’s where they serve up classic barbecue dishes, from ribs to chicken and brisket, to eager patrons. They offer sides, such as baked beans, collard greens and cornbread, too.
“We’ve always cooked and always done barbecue, but never gotten into the business of it,” Al Brown, the family patriarch said. “My sons wanted to start a business, but then the pandemic hit, so we were at home flushing the idea out a little more, which turned into us coming out with the smoker.”
The business is co-owned with Al’s sons, Almari and Alvaunte, who are students at Carrollwood Day School.
Their mom, Aleah, and other siblings when home from college, also help out — making it a family affair whenever they’re out on the corner.
“We always wanted a job, but once the pandemic hit, well, our dad kind of helped us make this job,” Almari said. “It’s great that we can do this and work with the family.”
Alvaunte added: “It’s pretty fun to be around the smoker and the family and learning from my dad, just about every day I can. (It’s a) little bit of hard work and sometimes — most of the time — it’s hot, but since it’s with the family, you don’t really notice.”
Originally, the Browns were going to go with a food truck, but the pandemic closed many businesses, where food trucks could park to sell meals, and also canceled events, another common source of customers.
Having a business requires the correct permits, certifications to serve food, and insurance, Al said.
It also requires having a parking permit, which allows the Browns to be on private property — owned by family friend, Larry Engle, owner of CutLettering Sign Company.
The setup gives the “restaurant” a bit of a tailgate feel.
Customers will hang out and eat, especially if the Browns are watching the University of Miami Hurricanes — their favorite college football team.
“I’ve been smoking food and cooking barbecue since I was 15,” Al said. “Since we couldn’t do the truck, it was more of hanging out and being outside. With the truck, it would have been a real in-and-out business, so with the tent and smoker, we have more of a tailgate feel than a food truck.
“Working with the family keeps us around each other as much as possible, too.”
“It’s great,” Alvaunte added. “We get the TV out here and watch some football while serving up this food — doesn’t feel like work at all.
“I won’t share the secret recipe, but I’ll say our ribs are the best — the Brown specialty.”
“I think our best dish is the ribs,” Almari agreed. “All the meat, though, is great and is real easy (to make) — you just got to know how to do it and not rush it.”
Brown’s Bar-B-Que Pit also caters events, and Al does a lot of cookouts for youth sports teams.
The Lutz family says they’ve been embraced by the communities nearby such as Lake Padgett Estates East, Plantation Palms and Dupree Lakes.
“The community here has been great with us,” Al said. “We did a trial run, like you would for any business, to see how people accept it. Everyone around here has been great, never had any complaints.
“It’s really been just word of mouth or people driving by and getting hungry. … But we’re out here, watching some football and enjoying the Florida sun and chatting with anyone who comes by for some barbecue!”
Brown’s Bar-B-Que Pit
Where: At the southwest corner of Collier Parkway and Parkway Boulevard, across the street from the entrance to Lake Padgett Estates East subdivision, in Land O’ Lakes.
When: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, around 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m.
Details: Family owned, homemade barbeque “joint” on the side of the road out of a pickup truck and a smoker, and offering all the classic favorites such as ribs, chicken, brisket, sausages, turkey breasts, mac and cheese, baked beans, cornbread and collard greens. Catering is available, too.
Info: Visit Facebook.com/Brownsbbqpitwesleychapel, or call 813-575-2117.
Published November 30, 2022