Story by Sarah Naron
PALESTINE – For more than three decades, Shep’s Bar-B-Q & Catering has given residents of Palestine and the surrounding area their fill of barbecue and good down-home cooking. It has also provided the family of owner Bruce Barrett, Sr. the opportunity to experience operating a small, family-owned business.
“My dad started working here when he was in junior high and stayed working here all through high school,” Bruce Barrett, Jr. explained. “He went to college for a year and a half, and then, he came back and bought the business.”
Barrett joined his father in the restaurant very early in life, saying he has been working there “ever since I was old enough to look over the counter.” Throughout the years, he has tried his hand at all of the various responsibilities and currently serves as the establishment’s general manager and co-owner.
While many longstanding businesses experience a multitude of changes throughout their existence, Barrett reported that no major occurrences have taken place at Shep’s. Among the elements which has remained a consistent part of the business is the heavy involvement of the Barrett family.
“It’s been kind of the same ever since we’ve had it,” he said. “All my family’s worked here, from my mama to my brothers to my granny – everybody, pretty much, has helped out.”
Barrett cited the family dynamic as the most enjoyable part of working at the restaurant.
“Most families don’t get to work together,” he pointed out. “It’s stressful sometimes, but yet, we still get to see each other every day.”
Among the most stressful aspects, Barrett said, is “taking work home.
“Sometimes, it’s like, ‘Well, you screamed at me for getting this today or not moving fast enough,’” he laughed.
When asked what advice he would give to other family-owned businesses or an individual interested in starting one, Barrett stressed the importance of making time to focus on the family in the midst of work.
“Don’t just put all of your time into the business, because then, you’ll be like, ‘Ugh, I’m stressed out and just wanna lay in the bed all day,’” he said.
Shep’s is open for dine-in and also offers catering services. The menu, Barrett said, ranges “from barbecue all the way up to soul food” and changes each day. Among the dishes served at various times are chicken and dumplings, chicken fried steak, fried catfish, meatloaf, and smothered pork chops, as well as barbecue favorites such as ribs and sausage.
“Our top seller is a thing called the Mailman, or Hercules,” Barrett said. “It’s brisket, sausage, jalapenos, and onions all chopped up together on a bed of fries with cheese on top.”
Shep’s Bar-B-Q & Catering is located at 1013 E. Palestine Ave. in Palestine. Hours of operation are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.
For more information, call (903)-729-4206 or visit the establishment’s Facebook page.