Famous Bar-B-Q Sticks

Spinnaker

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If you’ve ever stomped through the Neptune/Atlantic Beach restaurant strip, you might have noticed a quaint, swanky shack – bungalow, if you will – adjacent to Pete’s Bar, with a sign that reads: Bar-B-Q Sticks $1.50. If not the cultural type, then pay no bother, but for those who wish to taste something fresh and exotic, albeit cheap, look no further than this beachside treasure.

That’s right, the name of the joint is Bar-B-Q Sticks Restaurant. It’s a family-of-four-owned endeavor, with a menu featuring traditional Asian and American cuisine. And its chalk-full of goodies and treats you won’t find anywhere else.

“It’s quick, it’s cheap, it’s easy,” said one patron, ordering 12 barbecue sticks for himself and his pal, “Papa Bear.”

Although he ain’t lyin’, there’s much more to Bar-B-Q Sticks than hunks of meat on a skewer.

Such as adobo: a dish of chicken and pork sautéed in garlic, vinegar and soy. Then there’s siopao, which is essentially a Chinese chicken dumpling.

For dessert, try Halo Halo – ice cream so nice, they named it twice. It’s a special Philippino delicacy made with mixed sweet beans, purple yams, crushed ice, milk and ice cream, topped with crispy rice. Really like crispy? Try the crispy banana rolls stuffed with creamy jackfruit from the Philippines.

If you’re really hungry, I recommend any of its eight combo plates.

Order Combo No. 1, and you’ll get a barbecue stick – your choice of chicken, beef or pork – rice, sticky rice noodles, cooked vegetables and lumpia, aka spring rolls.

Combo No. 8 comes with a grilled pork chop and the rest of the aforementioned combo’s sides.

Insider tip: Mix everything together and dip lumpia in the joint’s homemade sweet and spicy sauce.

“All the food we make is homemade recipes,” said Beth Capinpin, mother and primary cook, as she bastes barbecue sauce onto the juicy meat sticks sizzling on the flattop range inside the order window.

“I grill the food in the window, so when people walk by, they smell my food,” she said.

Though Beth is the primary cook at Bar-B-Q Sticks, during the peak summer days, she needs extra help from her two children: Ramon Jr. and Josephine.

Ramon Jr., 20, is a man of few words. But he knows how to cook-up a Combo No. 1 plate like nobody’s business.

“Now that it’s getting busier, I’ll come in during the weekends and help,” he said.

Ramon Jr. said he enjoys helping out the family business when he’s not at school; he’s currently finishing up at Florida State College at Jacksonville and plans to attend UNF in the fall to major in business.

He has plans of maybe turning Bar-B-Q Sticks into a franchise someday, he said.

Speaking on behalf of the grub, Ramon Jr. stands by it.

“You don’t lose your dignity by eating our food,” he said. “Plus, the location is great – we’re right next to the beach.”

Josephine just finished FSCJ’s nursing program and is in the process of applying for jobs. In the meantime, she keeps her mom company at the barbecue stand during the weekends.

“It’s very comfortable working with my family because I know them so well,” she said.

Ramon Sr., 57, works the entrepreneurship side of things. He said his mother, Baby Buencamino, was a famous caterer in the Philippines.

“Catering to congressman and senators,” he said.

Baby taught Josephine her tried-and-true recipes, Ramon Sr. said, and in 1996, he moved his family to New Jersey where they set up shop at a carnival.

“That’s when our barbecue became famous,” he said.

It wasn’t long before the family came to the realization that Florida’s weather better suits their gimmick – the open-patio seating permits preferably suitable weather. And in 2004, they leased the shack – then a hot dog hut – and opened for business in Neptune Beach.

“The owners never thought Bar-B-Q Sticks would work out,” Ramon Sr. said.

Now, the only dilemma their famous barbecue sticks face, in terms of business, is a rainy day.

Ramon Sr. said the food they serve is the first of its kind.

They have manifested traditional Phillipino food into something that would appeal more to the American bravado, Ramon Sr. said.

“We kept to the taste of the American,” Ramon Sr. said. “Philipino food is a mix between Chinese, Thailand and Indonesia. They have this concoction of food that we model ours from.”

Bar-B-Q Sticks features approximately 30 food items, and it is always adding more. If you’re looking for a quick treat to cool down, they’ve got ice cream, popsicles and Italian ice ready to go, as well.

More than anything, Bar-B-Q Sticks is a humble dining experience with a welcoming family eager to treat you to recipes from their home.

“That’s why my food is so special,” Beth said. “People come here and they take a picture. They love my food because they want to try something different.”

Bar-B-Q Sticks is open seven-days a week. Hours: when it’s time to eat, to when it’s time to sleep.
120 Lemon Street, Neptune Beach, Fla., 32226
Bar-B-Q Sticks accepts orders and catering for all occasions. Call in advance.