I love a great BBQ story, and PJ and Carolyn Davis surely have one with their PJ’s BAR-B-QSA restaurant in Saratoga Springs, NY. They’ve known each other since the 10th grade and have made their marriage one of love and love of BBQ. Both formerly in education, the couple started PJ’s BAR-B-QSA back in 1984 after spending summers operating a BBQ catering business and travelling around sampling various regional BBQ styles.
While PJ Davis taught, the plan for owning a restaurant percolated in the back of his mind. At age 18, he’d written a bucket list with the item, “Own a restaurant.”
From 1975 to 1984, the Davises owned a barbecue catering business, which they ran only in the summer. In 1984, they bought the restaurant that is now PJ’s BAR-B-QSA, still running the operation seasonally. They had two children, son Johnny, now 37, and daughter Jady, now 35.
Regional BBQ Specialities From Kansas City to North Carolina
By 1999, the business at PJ’s had picked up to the point where teaching got phased out and full on BBQ Goodness Kicked in. Then, the magic started to happen when PJ had an idea about how to really give the restaurant a cool take on regional BBQ styles:
“I thought, ‘Let’s take all the best regional BBQ favorites and serve them here,’” he said.
In 2012, he acted on the thought and took a road trip across the United States in search of the best regional BBQ. The Davises traveled from one side of the country to the other, learning which wood to use while smoking meats and which methods of cooking each region favored.
One of the things I think is most cool about PJ’s is that they feature BBQ from various regions of the country. That’s pretty rare, as many barbecue restaurants specialize in the tastes of their specific locale. Easily turned into a hodge podge type mess, it sounds like PJ and Carolyn are really trying to serve up authentic versions of each style:
They chose a popular recipe from each place. Now their diners can select from among New York State Fair chicken, Memphis or Kansas City ribs, North Carolina pulled pork, Texas beef brisket, Virginia smoked sausage and Pacific Northwest’s smoked salmon. The menu is full of other choices such as sliders, Brunswick stew, sweet potato mash and loganberry soda. There are even southern desserts.
So What Are Your Thoughts?
Though I’ve not been to PJ’s myself, it’s now firmly on my BBQ Bucket List! Have you been there? If so, post a comment below and let us know what you think of the place! For more information on what PJ’s Bar-B-QSA has to offer, check out their website here. Also be sure to read more about PJ and Carolyn via the original article posted on them in the Saratogian.