For Louis and Steffani Graham, running a BBQ restaurant as a married couple means always having a partner who will push the other to the next level.
“We love cooking and we like the idea of working for ourselves,” said Steffani.
The couple serve smoked meats, chicken, sausage, pulled pork, tacos and fish at Sho-Nuff Smokehouse Q, a food trailer on a piece of property just off Highway 11. They’re well known for their pulled pork mac n cheese. One of their best sellers is the 3 Lil Pigs sandwich, filled with pulled pork, bacon and sausage and topped with homemade pickles and coleslaw.
Jumbo turkey legs can also be found cooking in the smoker.
The Grahams started a smokehouse in 2012, but in 2017 the restaurant in north Picayune closed. Instead the couple began selling smoked meats and sides part time during festivals with food trailers.
But in 2020, the Grahams decided to throw themselves back into the restaurant business full time. They ordered a trailer in March and planned to open in May. Then the pandemic hit. It took until October 2020 for their new location at 3 Bennett Apartment Rd. to officially open.
“There were so many delays, I didn’t think it was going to happen,” said Louis.
Their fresh start is going well, although customers from New Orleans, Gulfport and Bogalusa are still finding out that they’ve reopened.
The couple’s talents work well together—Steffani usually cooks the sides, while Louis smokes the meats.
“It’s amazing being married 17 years and finding out your wife can make some of the best homemade cornbread, after Jiffy mix, for all those years,” said Louis.
The couple occasionally butts heads, because they both want everything to be just right.
“It’s good to have someone to push you,” said Louis.
Both come from families with a legacy of cooking. Steffani’s grandfather used to cook professionally and she often found herself in the kitchen with him. Before opening their own restaurant, the couple cooked for church fundraisers and Louis won BBQ competitions.
Louis is well known for his brisket and has won Kansas City Barbecue Society competitions. He’s cooked so much brisket, it’s become second nature.
The first time he cooked brisket, Louis was unfamiliar with the cut and undercooked it, so it was “hard as shoe leather.” The next time he overcooked it, so the meat fell apart. He prayed on it, and found a happy medium.
Owning a small business comes with challenges, like learning new techniques while making sure not to overwork oneself.
“Being a small business owner in a city like Picayune, the population is not very large, you have to have faith that people are going to come out,” said Louis.
People in Picayune often leave the city to spend any disposable income and customers are often less forgiving of mistakes from locally owned restaurants than large chains, said Louis.
“Your food has to be perfect…Being a small business owner, there’s no room for error.”
In the future, the Graham’s plan to add chicken wings to their menu for even more variety.
The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday thru Friday and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.