McKenzie’s Barbeque & Burgers honored by the Texas Restaurant Association

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McKenzie’s Barbeque & Burgers has long been heralded as the standard by which all other Montgomery County barbeques should be judged.

The restaurant with locations in Conroe and on Walden Road in Montgomery has racked up numerous accolades and now the nearly 27-year-old family-run establishment has another honor to adorn its wall of awards and reviews.

At the Texas Restaurant Association’s Annual Gathering in Dallas recently, McKenzie’s was named 2022 Restauranteur of the Year for the Montgomery County Chapter of the Texas Restaurant Association.

The Montgomery County Restaurant Association is a chapter of the larger Texas Restaurant Association that brings together restaurant owners from across the state to network and advocate for the restaurant industry.

The Texas Restaurant Association may have been more important than ever in 2020 and 2021. During the COVID-19 pandemic, banding together and advocating for one another became vital as restaurants were one of the hardest hitting industries. affected by the economy. Already a difficult and unstable industry before the pandemic, at the start of the pandemic, restaurants were crippled by the pandemic, the restrictions and the uncertainty it brought. Thanks to these associations, restaurateurs have been able to better manage their business during the pandemic.

The Montgomery Chapter restarted earlier this year and now offers strength in numbers to independent restaurant owners in Montgomery County.

The Texas Restaurant Association has 17 local chapters throughout the state. Each chapter nominated a restaurant from their chapter for the honor. Each of these winners was then in consideration for the Outstanding Restaurateur award for the entire state. The 2022 statewide honor went to Alli Jarrett of Harold’s restaurant in Houston.

“It was amazing and a blessing,” Colin McKenzie said of the Montgomery County Section win. “We have great restaurants in Montgomery County and great restaurateurs who we have great respect for. It’s an honor to even be mentioned in the same category as some of these restaurants.

When Colin’s father, Darin McKenzie, opened McKenzie’s Barbeque in 1995, all of his friends thought he was crazy for getting into the business.

But at the time, “I was young and didn’t know any better,” he says. Darin’s dad encouraged him to “keep doing what you’re doing and don’t give up.”

He didn’t and now, nearly 27 years later, the restaurant is a community staple.

His barbecue experience dates back to his teenage years growing up in Longview.

He and his older sister, Shannon, both had braces. She took him to his appointments with the orthodontist. The lady who worked on her teeth always gave McKenzie a hard time.

Shannon used to take her to Bodacious BBQ in Longview after her dates. They frequented the place so often that he asked the owner for a job. He told her to come back when he was 16.

He did, and he and his older brother Kevin both ended up getting jobs at Bodacious BBQ. McKenzie’s first job was splitting wood. Then he moved on to serving tables, cleaning pits, washing dishes and more.

He attended Louisiana Tech University and upon graduation worked as a CPA at Longview for three years.

But it was always his desire to be his own boss and use the skills he honed at Bodacious BBQ.

Meanwhile, his brother Kevin and his wife Lisa opened McKenzie’s BBQ in Huntsville in October 1992. His sister Shannon then purchased Bodacious BBQ in Longview.

Darin and his wife, Kathy, took weekend trips to southeast Texas looking for locations for their restaurant. They eventually settled on Conroe.

Their eldest son, Colin, was born just six weeks before the restaurant opened. He is now an important part of the operation as the business grows into the next generation of the family.

Talking about recent awards, Colin McKenzie also shared that there are some exciting things in the works for McKenzie fans.

They recently started shipping their sauce and seasoning nationwide. These can be purchased under the McKenzie’s Shop tab on their website at https://mckenziesbarbeque.com/. They have already shipped sauces and seasonings to California, Michigan, New York and more.

“Customers who have moved or been relocated say, ‘That’s very cool. I was looking for your sauce and now I can order it online and have it delivered to my door,'” Colin said.

They are also in the early stages of testing to see if they can ship meat to those not in that area.

In early August, McKenzie locations will switch all of their beef products to the Nolan Ryan brand. The former baseball star is now considered an industry leader in providing high-quality cuts of beef to Texans and beyond.

“We are very excited about this partnership,” McKenzie said. “All of their beef comes from ranches in Texas. So we’re excited to use a Texan product for our beef brisket and hamburger meats. All breasts will be choice breasts.

They are also already taking reservations for holiday catering and their holiday event space.

Visit https://mckenziesbarbeque.com/ to learn more about McKenzie’s Barbeque & Burgers.

shernandez@hcnonline.com

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