When the 2015 Best of Taos Award for best barbecue went to a restaurant located in Angel Fire, Shera Maher and Richard Nance knew exactly what kind of business they were going to get into.
“It was clear that Taos needed its own authentic barbecue place,” said Maher.
And that was the beginning of Jethro’s Genuine Texas Barbeque, a food stand located between Ace Hardware and McDonald’s.
They opened the business Friday June, 12 and hit the ground running.
“The first day we sold everything in an hour and a half,” Maher said. “We were pleasantly surprised.”
Their “sandwich special” is made of 1/3 pound of either pulled pork, sliced beef brisket, chopped beef brisket, or sliced Kielbasa sausage, with Texas sauce. It comes dressed with onions, pickles or jalapeños, and served on a toasted bun with chips. A drink is included.
There is also a brisket burrito served on a flour tortilla.
Sides are potato salad, coleslaw, and Texas pinto beans.
Beef brisket, pulled pork, sausages, and pork ribs are sold by the pound as well.
They prepare the meat the way it is traditionally done in Texas.
“We smoke it for at least 11 hours and sometimes up to 13 hours,” Maher said. “The meat never touches the flame and is cooked only by the smoke, which circulates around it with temperatures between 250 and 300 degrees.”
As for the sauce, it isn’t added while the meat is being cooked, but afterwards.
“We make our own sauce from scratch, like everything else,” she said.
She likes the fact that the barbecue business is multicultural and has deep historical roots.
“Actually the word barbecue, barbacoa, came from the indigenous people of America,” she said. “Then, in Texas, we have strong black and Mexican culinary influences. They all added their own touch to the way the barbecue is done there and now we are bringing it to Taos.”
An enthusiastic reception
“You are the undisputed King and Queen of BBQ in New Mexico,” wrote Lenny Foster in the business’ Facebook page.
“We are very thankful to him and all our clients,” said Nance. “Such comments encourage us to continue working hard and offering Taos our very best.”
“I have worked in the restaurant business before,” Maher said, “but this is the only place where people have come up to me and say ‘thank you, we needed a place just like this one here.’ It’s really satisfying.”
Maher and Nance have an employee and friend, Joel Craig, who brought the big smoker and is the “sandwiches specialist,” but Jethro’s Genuine Texas Barbeque is mostly a family business.
Maher’s daughter, Savannah Hall, a UNM-Taos art student, works as a cashier. Her boyfriend Kyle Lavarnway pitches in sometimes.
“I like working here,” Hall said. “It’s fun to be around different people. And I eat BBQ every day. Everything is good so come get some food!”
Anyone who is wearing a public service uniform like EMS, firefighters and police officers can get a discount.
“We want to show appreciation to those who work so hard for our community,” Maher said.
Days, hours and more
Jethro’s Genuine Texas Barbeque is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. until the last brisket or rib is gone.
“We also started catering, which is something we can do any day of the week,” Nance said. “We hope to be open more days in the future.”
“For catering, we offer desserts like apple cobbler and can tailor the menu to whatever people want for side dishes,” Maher said. “We just had the first catering gig from Palacio de Marquesa and are very excited about this branch of the business.”
They plan to stay in the same location for the rest of the summer and move into an actual building before winter.
Maher is a jewelry designer and a seasonal rafting guide.
Nance has a building repair and garage door business and is also a river guide.
When they met, she first fell in love with his cooking.
“He made pork ribs and I gobbled them down,” she said. “I was so embarrassed later … I didn’t even use to eat pork back then!”
Nance learned the barbecue art from his uncles in Texas and has been cooking for over 30 years.
“As a river guide, he is used to cook for many people,” Maher said. “So we set out our outdoor kitchen like the ones you would find in a river trip.”
They have been partners and “very special friends” for four years.
“He helped me build my house and I am now helping him build his dream business,” she said. “Someone told me that when two people love each other, they become the keepers of each other’s dreams. That’s what we are doing now.”