Joe Alexander and Jody Michele. Photo by Centavo

Centavo’s Two Cents.

Rumors in San Felipe are always very interesting. Did you ever play that telephone game where the last person reveals what has been said around the circle? Yeah…I know …good luck with that. It is never remotely what was said in the beginning of the game.

I thought about the telephone game when I had heard a rumor that a new barbecue restaurant was coming to our seaside village… not just any barbeque joint but an “award winning one”. In fact, the proprietor Joe Alexander had won numerous awards for his finger lickin’ entries.

This is not the South… award winning barbeque? I think not. Someone pointed to the location where it would be…right on our Malecon!

Still I was not convinced.

True, it looked like the building was going through some renovation. I decided I should watch their progress.

Sure enough a Red SMOKIN JO’S AWARD WINNING BBQ sign appeared after several days of stalking the area.


Photo by Centavo

Somehow I missed what is called a “soft opening’’ of the restaurant. If you are not familiar with that term it means come and get free samples. I never miss an opportunity like this. I was told later that the opening was a success… lots of napkins needed…delicious.

A few days later my partner said… “I’m going into town. Shall I stop at that new barbeque place you have been obsessing about?”

I stayed by the window till she came home.

When she arrived she had a large brown paper bag emblazoned with the Smokin’ Jo moniker. That’s classy I thought.

She knew to bring me samples of everything. We sat and devoured the bags contents… except she forgot to add barbeque sauce of choice to the pulled pork sandwiches. “ Don’t eat those”, I said in a panic.” We’ll go tomorrow and get the sauce.”
And so we did.

Joe Alexander has lived in San Felipe for twelve years. He remembers the trips his father took here when he was a boy. He liked San Felipe so much he retired here.

Jody Michele is his business partner. She oversaw the renovations. She knew exactly what the interior needed. Jody is a tiny thing in stature but she was from New York, the city in fact. She had gone to culinary school and considers herself an able interior decorator. If I were still teaching she would have gotten an A Plus for both.

I am from New York and I was reduced with joy to mimic her accent.
You get the idea that Jody is no nonsense… but the twinkle in her eyes reveal she is kind.

I think it is wrong in someway to be cooking barbeque outside of your restaurant. People must pass its tempting fragrance daily. You find you can be in a trance about the smell and find yourself at their door before the place opens…a barbeque addiction…truly.

The restaurant business is a tough nut to crack. 90 % of these endeavors fail within a short amount of time…so this is risky.

Joe and Jody are convinced that they have a good product, location and service. I must agree.

Originally they had thought they would just serve take- out. But the ocean view called for people to sit and linger and ask for more napkins.


Photo by Centavo

Yes, Joe took first place in the challenging Best In The West Rib Fest in Sparks, Nevada. He has numerous awards for his barbeque. This festival has been going on for 28 years and is the largest Barbeque contest in America… so the judges have already applauded what you will be eating when you arrive. Just eat it and be grateful.

Joe tells me a quick story about his father emotionally adopting a young boy and raising him here in this town. Years passed and Joe was eager to find this person… a grown man. He found him and now he and his relatives run the restaurant in tandem with Joe and Jody. No one is beyond the hard work it takes to run a successful business. They are family.

I was thinking about future summers and stopping in for pulled pork sandwiches. But Joe and his barbeque family travel around the country during that time to the barbeque fairs that will bring more awards. I look sadly at their outdoor barbeque smoker.


Photo by Centavo

I asked Joe what it feels like to run a restaurant where you look straight at the ocean all day long. He replied,” It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Neither does his barbeque.

Stop by…Wednesday through Sunday 11 am to 7pm… Can’t miss the red sign on the east end of the Malecon! Bring friends!

You can probably talk them into catering your next celebration.

His award winning barbeque sauces are on sale too.

Centavo’s Wise Words: Food is love…but don’t talk with your mouth full.