Troy Davis started cooking ribs as a boy on his mother’s lawn in the Heart of Boynton neighborhood.
He’ll be 66 next month.
Between now and then he opened Troy’s Bar-Be-Que , and over the past 20 years it has grown into a Boynton go-to for what customers describe as plain, old, lip-smacking-good ribs and chicken.
Davis and his family have outgrown their location in their small corner takeout spot at Federal Highway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, a low-income neighborhood that city officials have for years tried to revitalize. They’re moving less than 2 miles south on Federal just south of Woolbright Road. They’ll open June 5.
“Everyone on the east side knows who we are,” said Davis’ son, Anthony Barber, who works at the restaurant and also runs Troy’s food truck. “If we come here we can accommodate all of Boynton and not just a certain sector, and that’s a positive.”
And if this location proves successful, more growth is on the horizon.
“You definitely want to grow … so maybe if it works right in about five years, if we get the right person, we’d sell a franchise,” Barber said.
Troy’s is a family-run business. Davis’ wife, Linda Davis, keeps track of the finances, and the children, who are grown, also work at the restaurant. The couple credits their son, Barber, as the “catalyst” behind the move.
The family tried to expand in 2000 but it didn’t happen.
“After 20 years of being established, you don’t want to stay in the same place for 20 years. You always want to see progression. This is progress for us,” said Linda Davis.
The new location, which the family is leasing, was formerly a Nathan’s and a Miami Subs Grill. The family will update the store, and for the first time will have a dining room. The restaurant will be cafeteria style, where customers can choose their food and seat themselves. Troy’s also will have a drive-through.
Joe Evans, the child care director at the city, said he’s known Barber since he was a boy playing basketball in the city program. Now, Barber is doing everything with the restaurant he said he would years ago, Evans said.
“You don’t have too many good restaurants around here that’s home-cooked,” he said. “It’s like my grandma cooked the sides — baked beans, mac and cheese, collard greens. I don’t know what is it but I love the BBQ sauce.”
While the phrase goes “blood is thicker than water,” in this case, barbecue sauce trumps all.
Some family members know the secret recipes, and Troy Davis admits he’s worried that too many people know and the secret could get out.
Troy’s began with just ribs and chicken, and sides such as collard greens, candied yams and pigeon peas and rice. Now, the menu offers all that plus brisket, pork and conch fritters. On average, between Thursday and Sunday, Troy’s feeds about 600 customers, Barber said.
The family planned to close the business at the spot they rent in the Heart of Boynton, but now they’re having second thoughts.
“I’m already missing it,” Troy Davis said.
There is one downside to the new location, compared to their first, Linda Davis said.
“It was a different environment. We could go outside and have conversations with customers. Here it’s more of a straight line. It’s a little bit less personal,” she said. “I’m going to miss seeing them and talking to them because everybody has a story.”
Commissioner Mack McCray represents the district where Troy’s first location sits. The commissioner said he has grown up with Troy Davis, and the food. He said he’s happy for the family.
“I’m glad they are expanding. They put into that community,” he said. “I wish them the best. I’m sorry they’re moving out of District 2 but after all they’re still in Boynton.”
And the family has an easy way for the public to remember where they are going.
“Someone said the other day it’s like moving on up like “The Jeffersons” and I said ‘yeah, to the east side.’ Because right now we’re on the west side of Federal. It’s kind of humorous in that regard,” Barber said, referring to a 1970s TV show.