LL’s Bar-B-Que

Louis Lee, a longtime resident and fraternity chef, opens his own restarant


Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.

The “coming soon” sign is down and barbecue and other dishes are being served at LL’s Bar-B-Que, which opened in early February.

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Louis Lee, right, and his wife, Bonnie Robinson Lee, are the owners of LL's Bar-B-Que at 3807 E. University Ave, which opened in early February.

LEE FERINDEN/Special to the Guardian

The business, located at 3807 E. University Ave., is owned by 51-year-old Louis Lee, a lifelong Gainesville resident who spent a year and a half making renovations to the building, which formerly housed the House of Country Cuisine. Lee tore down and installed walls in the building to add more dine-in seats and a drink fountain and to privatize the bathroom.

“The kitchen was nothing like this,” said Lee, as he led a tour of the building. “I came in and put in my own equipment. I put in a convection oven, a range, a grill, a fryer and a broiler.”

Lee said he gets a lot of compliments from customers about the cleanliness of the restaurant, and even more compliments about the food.

Lee uses two smokers in a screened-in area in the back of the building to cook his meat. One can cook up to four cases of chicken and the other up to four-and-a-half cases of chicken. He begins cooking at 3 a.m. every day expect Sunday and allows the meat to cook slowly over blackjack, hickory and pecan wood.

Lee, who has been the house chef at Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity at the University of Florida for more than 30 years, said business has been going well. He said the ribs have been his bestseller, but he added that his special barbecue pulled beef, pulled chicken and pulled pork calzones are becoming popular with customers.

“I sell them for $4.99 each,” said Lee, adding that he came up with the idea for the calzones while working as a cook at summer camps in Maine and New Hampshire. “That’s one thing I have that no other barbecue place has, and that is my barbecue calzones.”

Lee said he started cooking at 19 after graduating in 1980 from Buchholz High School and going to a summer camp in Bristol, N.H., to cook with his uncle.

“He took his time and showed me how to do things the right way,” Lee said.

The business is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, with a buffet on Sunday. The breakfast menu consists of sandwiches and omelets and the lunch and dinner menus feature Bonnie’s Big Baskets, a variety of sandwiches, chicken nuggets, tenders or wings, with fries and a drink.

The menu also features fried chicken dinners for individuals and families, barbecue chicken and ribs, livers, gizzards, cole slaw, baked beans, green beans, macaroni and cheese, French fries, corn on the cob and potato salad.

Kenneth Simmons of Gainesville said he has eaten at the restaurant two or three times and the food has been delicious every time.

“I got the beef brisket today, and it is good just like it has been every other time I have been here,” said Simmons. “It’s good. It’s just that simple.”

Gainesville resident Ella Long, who recently ate at the business for the first time, said she will be patronizing the business more in the future because the food is good and because she has known Lee and his wife for many years.

“It is very important to support their business because that is the only way the business will stay open,” Long said.

“I grew up with them, so it is very important for me to support them, and I will be coming back.”

Lee works in the restaurant until 10 a.m. before heading to work at the fraternity house and then coming back to the restaurant.

He said owning his own business is extremely rewarding.

“I’ve always wanted to own my own business, and now that I have it, I can say I made it happen,” said Lee. “It’s hard work, but I was raised knowing that hard work is what it takes to get what you want out of life. Whether this business is successful or not, I will be able to say I owned my own business.”

Hours of operation are from 6-10:30 a.m. for breakfast and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-6 p.m. on Sunday. The phone number is 352-672-6555.

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