Bubba’s BBQ & Steakhouse returns to the top

Bubba’s BBQ & Steakhouse returns to the top

John Meager in front of Bubba's
Photo by Brittany Smith John Meager purchased Bubba’s BBQ and Steakhouse in Ennis and has restored the historic establishment to the grandeur it once knew.

There is some irony in the name of the man who rescued one of Texas’ favorite barbecue restaurants because there is nothing poor about what John Meager did.

Meager became the owner of Bubba’s BBQ & Steakhouse in Ennis on July 4, 2019. It was once considered one of the top 50 steakhouses in the state, but business had fallen.

“Tom (Newell) put Bubba’s up for sale and I was initially interested in real estate. But it’s become more than that to me because I can see what this means to Ennis and the people who used to come to eat at Bubba’s,” Meager said. “I am personally interested in seeing Bubba return to his glory days.”

Prices go up, sales go down

Don Washburn originally opened Bubba’s in 1988. Newell bought it in 2002.
The change of course did not happen overnight. For example, there was the COVID-19 pandemic to deal with, Meager said.

“It cut sales in half. Meat prices have skyrocketed and have yet to come back down,” Meager said of the pandemic.

In January 2021, Meager made a management change. He said he also made a more concerted effort to listen to longtime customers and employees.

“Roy Lewis, who has been there for 28 years, helped with the change in the smoker. Rickey Phipps, who came in as manager, helped get things back on track in terms of what we were selling and how it was run. Julia, the cook, came back and started to bring back the flavor of the sides and the vegetables,” she said.

The result of it all? In 2021, Bubba’s was voted #1 on TripAdvisor and Yelp, and was also voted the best of the best steakhouses in Ennis. Meager said he expects more awards in 2022.

And he relied on the restaurant’s history to help a little, he said.

An Ennis landmark

“People are more willing to come back and give us a try, knowing the role Bubba’s has played in the community,” he said. “I remember being told that Bubba’s used to be the ‘meeting place’ before the races at the Metroplex in the early ’90s.”

Bubba’s also appeared on a show hosted by “The Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus called “Ride with Norman Reedus” in 2016.

“I would definitely call it a milestone. Everyone who lives in Ennis knows where Bubba’s is,” Meager said.

And judging by the comments from visitors to the new Bubba’s, or the old Bubba’s, depending on your point of view, they’re having fun.

“It has improved a lot since the last time we tested here. We decided to give it a try after reading the most recent reviews saying it had improved and were correct,” said Shannon McCarroll.
“Service is really what makes or breaks a business, and all the ones I’ve ever met were over the top. You won’t be disappointed. I loved the banana pudding and the whole place is very clean,” added Uhm Fyre.

Looking ahead, more changes are coming, Meager said. These will include monthly live events and performances.

“We plan to be more active in the Ennis community, volunteering and supporting the other local small businesses,” he said. “And of course, keep an eye out for more favorites added to the menu.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *