Sorry EmeraldCoast.com and Jan Waddy. I know this is your story, and I’m totally copying it word for word on pcbdaily, but I wanted our readers to see this. I give full credit to the story and article to Jan Waddy and Florida Freedom Newspapers.
I love Bootleg Barbeque and was blown away at how good everything was and how well Josh and his staff treated us. The food was phenomenal.
PANAMA CITY BEACH – “I’ve been in the restaurant business since before I could drive,” said Josh Daugherty, owner of Bootleg Barbecue.
His first job was at “a little barbecue shack in Sandestin,” Pig’s Alley, which is still around.
“Fifteen years later, I was an executive chef at Santa Rosa Beach Club,” said Daugherty. After going the “fine dining route for many years,” he wanted to do “something a little more fun, barbecue.”
“It’s unpretentious,” said Daugherty, “but still has a lot of integrity to it.”
He and his wife, Karen, are the “actual owners,” but Daugherty said, they have “kind of an extended family, other people that are key.”
Mark Garrigus, who Daugherty calls Gus, was one of his cooks at the beach club. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native now smokes the barbecue at Bootleg. Daugherty said he was impressed with Garrigus’ authentic procedure.
“He has been doing barbecue longer than I’ve been alive,” said Daugherty. “So many people have bastardized barbecue, made it more fast food.”
Bootleg uses fresh, never frozen, bone-in Boston butts, which, he said, is the standard in pulled pork. Garrigus then smokes it in the restaurant for 14 to 18 hours.
“We believe barbecue to be a way of cooking,” said Daugherty. “It’s not a sauce and it’s certainly not a gas appliance that sits on your back patio.”
As for the reference to St. Louis ribs on the menu, he said it refers to the cut of the ribs, “product identification.” The ribs, he said, are a trimmed down version, without the cartilage at the end. “You just have a nice, good, lean, tender rib.”
There is no beef barbecue on the menu.
“We’re pretty much not from beef country, not really in the business. Basically, regional Southeast is our style,” said Daugherty. “There aren’t as many cows as pigs in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.”
Bootleg serves sauce on the side, but with the nice smoky flavor, you really don’t need it. “I’ve always been a little apprehensive about people who serve barbecue with sauce on it,” said Daugherty.
He believes the ribs are “the best thing we have on the menu” and customers seem to agree.
“I’m a rib guy,” said Daugherty. “There’s nothing prettier than a plate of full ribs in front of me.”
The pulled pork has been great for the lunch crowd. Pulled Pork, Pork Rib or Smoked Barbecue Chicken plates come with two sides.
“There are so many different styles of barbecue,” said Daugherty. “Your Carolina is different from Kentucky. East and West Tennessee can’t get along, and that’s one state. If anyone asks, it’s beach barbecue. It’s Bootleg Barbecue.”
“Barbecue is a lot healthier that people give it credit for,” he said. “It’s lean meat with nothing added to it. It’s the potato salad that gets you in trouble, and the cheese toast,” he said with a laugh.
All plates are served with Mother Marie’s Cheese Toast, which is good enough to make a meal out of. “That’s one of my favorites,” Daugherty admitted.
He first tried his mother-in-law’s cheese toast when he and Karen were engaged. He ate a loaf and a half. “It’s so simple and just so good,” he said.
Daugherty wanted to give customers something besides the usual buttered bread or garlic toast.
For dessert, there is homemade peach cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream.
“It’s not a prepackaged corporate thing,” said Daugherty, an independent owner. He has grown up in the Panhandle.
“We try to give as much local color and flavor as possible,” which is evident in the décor. “I think Panama City Beach is going in a good direction, but I don’t think that’s any reason to forget when it was cinderblock houses on the beach. Tourists will come. We’re really here for the folks that live here year-round.”
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily (or later)
Pier Park in Panama City