By Tammy Leytham
It’s not the sauce that holds the secret to Tay’s Barbecue. It’s the dry rub.
It’s a recipe passed to Ramsay Taylor from his grandfather, Millard, who started the first Tay’s Barbecue after World War II in Columbia, Miss.
Ramsay Taylor re-started the family business after graduating from Ole Miss in 2000. And it’s grown since then.
“My grandfather started with hickory-smoked ribs and chicken. He had a drive-thru. He said it was the first he’d seen,” Taylor said.
At first the restaurant didn’t even have a name, just a sign that advertised the food. Eventually, Millard Taylor called it Tay’s — short for his last name — and it developed into a family-style restaurant.
Over the years, Millard Taylor would give the dry-rub to family members as Christmas gifts and Ramsay said the barbecue was just part of his life.
The Columbia restaurant closed in the 1980s. Fast-forward 20 years to when Ramsay was approached by a friend about opening selling his family’s barbecue in convenience stores across Louisiana and Mississippi.
“He said, ‘I’ve never had barbecue as good as your family’s,” Ramsay Taylor said.
They opened a location inside the Shell service station on Highway 63 in Moss Point and the Chevron at Ingalls and Chicot in Pascagoula.
They offer pulled pork, brisket, ribs and wings cooked fresh daily. Tay’s Barbeque is prepared the old-fashioned way, starting with a special dry rub and ending with a long slow smoking process over a hickory fire until the meat is tender. In fact, the pulled pork and beef brisket go on the cooker at 7 p.m. and cook until 5 a.m.
“We take that off and while it’s cooling, we load the cooker with things that don’t take as long to cook,” Taylor said.
That flavorful barbecue found a lunch market, and Taylor catered to industries like Chevron as well, building the business.
“About 90 percent of our business was repeat,” said Taylor who needed a way to reach new customers. “I knew we had to get our product in consumers’ hands cause once they tried it, they’d be back.”
So he ran a small ad in the local newspaper offering Two-for-Tuesdays. “That used to be my worst day of the week, now it’s my busiest,” he said. “People would come in with the ad in their hand. It grew our business expeditiously … they come back anytime they’re looking for something good to eat.”
They outgrew the Pascagoula service station location and in August he bought the old Adrian’s restaurant location just down the road on Ingalls. “It was a good opportunity for us. To own a place instead of renting,” he said.
With the family-restaurant, they have more tables and chairs, TVs and allow customers to bring their own bottle of beer or wine, which has helped build their dinner business. They also needed the additional space to grow the catering business, Taylor said.
His business partner and brother-in-law Matthew Mayfield is a Mississippi State grad who also attended the Culinary Institute of America.
While the restaurant offers barbecue, with Mayfield on board, the catering operation has the ability to do anything a customer wants, Taylor said.
They continue to operate the location in Moss Point and have a location at 119 Colony Crossing Way in Madison, Miss.
For more information on the business, call Taylor at 228-806-1600 or Mayfield at 228-326-7476 for catering. If you live in Madison, call 601-497-0400.
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