By Libby Hopkins

May is National Barbecue Month and our community has some awesome barbecue restaurants that offer a variety of barbecue fare. As I was doing my research for this story, I found out that barbecue in itself is a sacred process. It’s just not the coming together of fire, smoke and meat; it’s the wood, the rub, the sauce and so much more. Barbecue is one of the oldest cooking techniques know to mankind. The word barbecue is believed to have its origin from the Taino Indian word, “babracot,” which describes the lashed-together wooden structure on which meat was smoked slowly over a grate in the Caribbean. The Spanish morphed the word into “barbacoa,” which eventually became “barbecue.”

Roger Storr is the owner of First Choice Barbecue in Brandon and Plant City and he has been in the barbecue business for more than 25 years. He said the Lord called him to the barbecue business. “I was driving home on the interstate at three in the morning when the Lord spoke to me and said I needed to go into the barbecue business,” Storr said, “I told the Lord I didn’t know anything about barbecue business.”

Only Storr knows the ingredients of his secret barbecue sauce and he keeps the recipe in a safety deposit box. “If something happens to me, my wife and kids can go and get the recipe out of the safety deposit box, but even they don’t know the ingredients of my sauce,” Storr said. He will tell you that the recipe is 55 percent his and the other 45 percent he got from his mother and mother-in-law.

The Kazbour family has strong ties to the Brandon community with owning several Hungry Howie’s restaurants and their new Seafood Dive restaurant. They also know a thing or two about barbecue as well. Ziad Kazbour, the owner of Bubbaques in Brandon, and his partner Ryan Bell know that the right combination of wood, meat and sauce makes all the difference in great tasting barbecue. “We have six great sauces that range from mustard, tomato, vinegar and molasses-based because we know people from different regions enjoy different barbecue sauces,” Kazbour said. “Tractor Grease,” is the most popular barbecue sauce at Bubbaques. It’s a mild sweet sauce with a lot of flavor.  Its smoker can smoke 750 pounds of meat at one time.

Located right on Lithia Pinecrest Rd. Jaymer-Q BBQ is owned by Jaymer and Cyndi Holcombe and serves award-winning BBQ. With a sit down restaurant and convenient take-out available at its location at the intersection of Lithia Pinecrest Rd. and Bloomingdale Ave. at 3331 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. Call 657-4227 or visit All of the meats are prepared on-site and smoked slowly to enhance the flavor of the meat. You may notice a pink tint to your meat – that is the sure sign that the meat has been smoked and not steamed. It prepares its meats with dry rubs – not sauce. It prefers you to try the meat without sauce, although it has a variety of sauces available.

Hungry Harry’s BBQ was established on November 5, 1985 in Land O’ Lakes. One man’s search for great Bar-B-Que and life’s curveballs led Harry M. Wright to open Hungry Harry’s. The Seffner location is located at 2006 South Parsons Ave., Seffner. Call 643-0063 for more information or take out.  For more information, visit

So does reading all of this make you hungry? If so, you have the whole month of May to eat barbecue to your heart’s content. First Choice Barbecue is located at 10113 Adamo Dr. and Bubbaques is located at 957 E. Brandon Blvd. both in Brandon.


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Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.