Bobby R. W.’s restaurant “Just Passing Thru?” is a southern-style restaurant offering customers traditional home cooking and barbecue. They make delicacies like oxtail (cow’s tail), which they slice into small pieces and prepare with special seasonings. Though “Just Passing Thru” has been in business nearly ten years, until now it has only served barbecue. Wanting to expand the menu to include more of the traditional food he grew up with, Bobby temporarily closed his restaurant to prepare for the new product lines. “Just Passing Thru?” recently celebrated its reopening with a “dry run” that tested the new concept. “’Dry run’ means that we checked to see how the food looked going out the door. We were known for our barbecue, but they were not used to the home cooking,” says Bobby.
With great wit and colorful imagery, Bobby describes his restaurant’s early success since reopening. After recently taking food to the Humble Police Department, Bobby says that one of the sergeants called to tell him that the food was so good “he would be ashamed to take the bone home to his dog.” With “Just Passing Thru?” located next to a railroad track, the train conductor calls in his order in advance so that he can pick up his food as he passes through town. Bobby jokes that “the food is so good, it literally stops trains.”
Bobby knows what it means to put in a full day’s work. In addition to running his restaurant, which he calls his “extra job,” Bobby is in his 34th year of service as a state trooper. As if that isn’t enough, he is also a Christian pastor and a family man, with five grown children whom he raised with his wife of 30 years. Originally from Louisiana, Bobby settled in Texas after graduating from Paul Quinn College in Waco. “I am from Louisiana… I’m a country boy. I went to college because no one I knew had graduated from college.”
Bobby pastors a church that is also on the same property as “Just Passing Thru?” “Our food is not as good as the spiritual food,” he quips, “but it is good. We would put our food up against any restaurant.” Needless to say, between working full-time as a highway patrolman, managing his restaurant, and pastoring his church, Bobby stays busy. “The Lord is busy right about now in my life... I’m always packing, I’m always loaded. I’m either carrying a SIG 357 or the 66 books of the Bible.”
With this loan from ACCION Texas-Louisiana, Bobby is buying a new refrigerator for the restaurant, which is important because his current fridge is old and fluctuates in temperature. The remainder of the loan is being set aside to help with general expenses as Bobby navigates the business through its reopening. Like many of ACCION Texas-Louisiana’s customers, this loan serves the additional purpose of helping Bobby build his business’ credit so that he can qualify for traditional financing in the future.
Currently, “Just Passing Thru?” is open weekdays for lunch and on the weekends. Being limited by his schedule as a state trooper, Bobby is growing the business slowly to make sure that any progress made is sustainable. He prioritizes serving lunch because, “There are a lot of hard-working people that need a good meal during the day.”
One customer and fan of the restaurant surprised Bobby by creating a “Just Passing Thru?” website. Though not all of the information on the website is correct, Bobby is appreciative of the gesture and sees the website as something to build from in the future.
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.