A Gulfport legend is closing its doors after this weekend. Smokin’ J’s, the popular house of Texas BBQ, will shut down its smoker at the end of restaurant service on Sunday as the owner moves into retirement.
John Riesebeck, who opened Smokin’ J’s back in 2009, has been eyeing a move into a healthy retirement for some time, as he’s had the property listed for sale most of the year. This week, he came to an agreement with a developer who will close on the purchase next week. While the news is sudden, Riesebeck plans to celebrate one last weekend with the community he’s loved and been supported by for so long.
He’s stocked the restaurant to last the weekend, and Smokin’ J’s will operate under its usual hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday – or until supplies run out. While the lines may be long as a result of the news, the heaping plates and platters at Smokin’ J’s are more than worth the wait for one last hurrah.
In an announcement posted on the doors, he said: “It is with mixed emotions, after 13 years of fun times serving our community, my doctors and I have decided it is in my best interest to retire … It has been a wonderful 13 years and we appreciate all your support throughout the years. You will be missed. We have made many friends along the way, and for that we are truly blessed, but the time has come to retire and enjoy the rest of our lives.”
A new BBQ spot could take over the Smokin’ J’s location
Riesebeck has turned his BBQ joint into a St. Pete star, regularly referred to by locals as some of, if not the best smoked meats and rib-sticking sides in town. While we’re sad to see him go, we salute Smokin’ J’s for more than a decade of tremendous eats.
That said, it may not be the end for BBQ in that location, even if Riesebeck himself is headed for sunnier (and decidedly less smoky) pastures. We’re told that the developer purchasing the property is hoping to find another pitmaster to take over and use all the BBQ gear already on site. It could be a new concept, or perhaps even a continuation of Smokin’ J’s.
While finding an interested restaurateur isn’t guaranteed, it would certainly be great to keep the smell of smoked meats wafting through the neighborhood air. We recently profiled Riesebeck and Smokin’ J’s, which you can check out here.
And for those who are worried they’ll have to miss out on the best pickles in town, there’s a spear of good news: Riesebeck said his famous dills will soon be available online and possibly in stores. He’s going to launch Smokin’ J’s Sweet and Sassy Pickles as his first retirement project. Be on the lookout for that announcement.