By Ben Lawson
When they made the decision to relocate their restaurant from Maryville to Seymour, John and Kristie Parton’s main goal was to be closer to home. If their opening weekend was any indication, it was the right decision for a whole other reason.
The Parton’s interest in barbecue started after close friend Willie Laboy invited them to participate in a barbecue bash. Sensing an opportunity, they jumped at the chance to open a restaurant when space became available in Maryville, and Parton’s Smokin Butz BBQ Family Restaurant was born.
While business was strong, they were excited by the chance to move the restaurant closer to home in Seymour after the former Skyline Pizza site opened up.
“We just knew Seymour needed another sit down restaurant where you feel at home,” John Parton said.
They envisioned a place for families, where children could be themselves without worrying about making a mess, a place to have fun and enjoy a meal that is cooked in huge barbecue pits and topped with sauce of their own devising.
“We’re not a chain,” Parton said. “We’re home cooking.”
That vision became reality last Thursday when they officially opened. The plan was to have a soft opening without much fanfare. But to their surprise, things did not go exactly to plan.
“They wiped us out Thursday,” Parton said. “I was out of food and offering people whatever I had left.”
It was a trend that would continue. The next day, they double cooked to be safe and still ran out of food. Some of the business stemmed from Maryville customers eager to return, while others were in for the first time.
On Friday, Parton was taking people’s names while the line ran into the parking lot. Many indicated they would be back and then turned up again in the same weekend.
“As long as people keep saying they’ll be back, we’ll be here,” he said.
Parton couldn’t say where the intense interest came from, but attributed part of the returning business to the atmosphere. Both he and Kristie are there full time, him in the kitchen and her covering tables. The goal is to make people feel as welcome and at home as possible.
The Partons themselves are at home here. Their children attend King’s Academy and during football season, they plan to stay open late to accommodate crowds after the games.
Although he’s aware that several businesses have passed through this spot in recent years, Parton isn’t worried after the strong opening.
“If this keeps up, we’ll be here forever,” he said.
Parton’s Smokin Butz BBQ Family Restaurant is located at 10211 Chapman Highway. They’re open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., although Parton said closing time could be extended depending on business.
“If the lights are on, then come on in,” he said.
Opening a Success for BBQ
By Ben Lawson