Green opens Klemke’s barbecue in community

Lucy Saluri, manager, left, and Randy Green, owner of Klemke’s Barbecue Joint, 7822 82nd St., work behind the counter. (Photo by Jim Jarrett)

By Jim Jarrett

Randy Green is what you call a professional chain smoker.

Before two months ago, he would smoke occasionally in front of his family. Now he does it seven days a week  in a Fina gas station.

Green is the owner-manager of Klemke’s Barbecue Joint, which has been open about two months and is thriving.

Is this is a good area for barbecue?

“I think anywhere in Texas is a good area for barbecue. I think West Texas is a super area for barbecue.”

How is business going?

“It’s been real good. We had a soft opening. We were low key. We didn’t have any menu boards up. If you wait for the perfect time, you will never open. We just opened the doors and added to it as we went.”

How did you get started?

“I began a distribution company about three years ago. I met Rod Klemke because he makes great turkey. He sold us a bunch of turkey from Slaton.

“I also know Danny Kendrick, who owns Fast Stops, pretty well.

“(Danny) came to me one day and said he wanted to lease out a restaurant and if I knew anybody. I started thinking about it and thought I could cut a deal. I went to Rod.

“It’s sort of a franchise-type deal. I buy all my products from (Klemke), got his process down cooking-wise to the second so I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Basically, it’s the same products he has. That’s his restaurant.

Randy Green

Age: 50.
Church: Southcrest First Baptist Church.
Family: Wife, Denise; daughters, Kristyn and Kaitlyn; son, Eric.
Favorite restaurant (other than Klemke’s): Las Brisas Southwest Steakhouse.

“This is mine using his name. … I think it bodes well saying Klemke’s instead of Randy’s even though we do similar things. You use an asset if it’s available to you.”

I understand you are an entrepreneur. What other businesses are you operating?

“I have a distribution company, a landscaping business I really started for my son. He was in Iraq in the Army. When he got back, he went to Tech. I sort of financed that. It’s not hard to start a business. What’s hard is to stay in business.”

What’s your secret to success?

“I have been exposed to things like this, but never owned a restaurant per se. We try to emphasize several things — friendliness, quality, cleanliness — and put those things together to get consistency every day.”

What about your staff?

“The key has been good help. I’m not here all the time. I have to depend on those folks to make it happen.

“I like employees to eat lunch here. They can eat for free. The simple fact is they taste it and know if it is good. I always tell them late in the day, if you wouldn’t eat it, get it out of here. … If they don’t want to eat it, we won’t feed it to the customers.”

What’s the best compliment you’ve had?

“We’ve had a number of them. I’m really proud of the people we have working here. I get complimented on the folks who work for me all the time.”

What are the plans for the future? Do you want to see it grow as a franchise?

“I think we have a good process, good food. There’s two ways of doing it. One’s right and one’s wrong. So far, we’ve been on the right side, I think on most everything. As far as investment goes, barbecue doesn’t take a lot of labor. It’s not like sitting in a restaurant, ordering and somebody’s back there cooking. … As far as opportunity goes, I think we have an opportunity to franchise quite a few of them if we do it right in baby steps.”

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