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Larry J’s BBQ Cafe: This Black-owned Boston business is spreading the gospel of barbecue

Rachel Amster
Larry J’s  BBQ Cafe: This Black-owned Boston business is spreading the gospel of barbecue
Owner Larry Jimerson in front of his restaurant PHOTO: COURTESY BOSTON SEAPORT

Since 2012, the owner of Larry J’s BBQ Cafe, Larry Jimerson, has provided Bostonians with mouthwatering barbecue.

Jimerson’s journey into the world of barbecue began on a beach in Jamaica. As he sat in the sand, the idea of either starting a hot dog or barbecue restaurant came to him. As thoughts and recipes poured onto the paper, he chose to go the barbecue route, hoping it would all work out. His brother in Palm Springs had a restaurant, but no one in his family did barbecue.

Before becoming the first Black-owned business in the Seaport area, the business had a location in Chelsea; however, due to the pandemic and “greedy landlords,” it relocated, bringing new flavors to the Seaport.

At Larry J’s BBQ Cafe, customers have seven or eight sauces to choose from, some of them based on childhood memories. There is the Texas Sauce, the Arkansas Red Sauce, the Honey Chipotle Sauce, the North Carolina Sauce, the South Carolina Sauce, the Jamaican Jerk Sauce and the Cali Fire Sauce, each with its own unique flavor. Two of the restaurant’s signature items are the turkey legs and the jumbo beef rib platter.

For Jimerson, barbecue is more than a cooking style. It’s a way of life.

“The biggest misconception,” he said “is that grilling and barbecue are the same thing, they’re not. In New England, from the time I moved here, they say April through May, ‘Barbecue season is coming up, get your grills out.’” He emphasizes that true barbecue “is low and slow, it is different from grilling.”

Although Larry J’s BBQ Cafe continues to be a success, there have been growing pains while in the Seaport district. Operating out of a small kiosk, less than 400 square feet and in in need of remodeling, has not been the easiest.

“I wish we were full service, not just takeout,” Jimerson said, but despite being a small kiosk, “we have the best patio in the Seaport.” As the website says, the food “is as smoky and savory as our signature burnt ends and pulled pork.”

For many small businesses and restaurants, COVID-19 hit hard, resulting in closures for some. Jimerson feels fortunate and thankful to be in business; however, the pandemic was still an obstacle no one saw coming.

“After COVID, we had to reinvent ourselves, in an effort to keep things moving,” he said. They had to be innovative, creating personalized menu options, such as individual lunches for customers to indulge in during uncertain times. Four years later, all of corporate America is still not back to work. Compared to before the pandemic, when thousands of people would be outside, the Seaport district is less busy.

Jimerson’s dedication, passion and love for barbecue shines through every dish served at Larry J’s BBQ Cafe, reflecting his commitment to his craft. He said it himself: “Business becomes your livelihood.”

Tucked away at 600 D St., the best of the best is waiting for you. If you are a barbecue enthusiast, or merely craving delicious food, you have come to the right place.

barbecue, BBQ, Black-owned business, business, food, Larry J’s BBQ Cafe, Seaport