Papa KayJoe's BBQ reopens after losing building to grease fire - WSMV Channel 4

Papa KayJoe's BBQ reopens after losing building to grease fire

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Papa KayJoe's was destroyed in a fire just over a year ago. (WSMV) Papa KayJoe's was destroyed in a fire just over a year ago. (WSMV)
CENTERVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Few things seem to say Fourth of July celebrations more than fireworks, red, white, and blue, and perhaps barbecue.

This Independence Day is a special one for a Middle Tennessee barbecue joint 14 months after a difficult day.

There's a simple philosophy for Devin Pickard.

"If you can't smell it from a mile, it's not worth your while," Pickard laughed, after preparing a beef brisket. "You can't smell a salad from a mile away."

A pastor in Centerville, people know Pickard from church and from the joint he has run for 17 years, Papa KayJoe's BBQ.

"It's kind of upscale redneck," he said. "The pork on cornbread is the best. We fry them up in bacon grease. They're real healthy."

The reviews aren't bad.

"Five stars!" said one kid in Papa KayJoe's.

"I give it a million," another said.

"We've got mostly plastic forks and spoons," Pickard said. "We just want folks to feel they don't have to put on airs when they come in."

A wall of pictures tells the story of a day 14 months ago when an early morning grease fire took Papa KayJoe's.

"I had a good cry," he said. "I had a long cry. I just didn't have any words. I didn't know how to feel. I needed to get back to work because my bills keep coming in."

On a day when 17 years of hard work was reduced to rubble, Pickard said people began approaching him with checks. Having helped so many from the pulpit and in-person so long, Pickard said he had to learn to accept help himself.

"Other people were looking me in the eye and saying, 'It's going to be alright,'" he remembered.

Now, after months operating out of a temporary spot, Papa KayJoe's is rebuilt.

"I used to work out and probably still should, but that just gives you a good-looking corpse when you die," he laughed.

Pickard said this return wouldn't have happened without his family, the blood-relatives and those who just pull up a seat for lunch.

"I feel a lot of pride in my community," he said. "It's a good place, and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else."

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