Lifelong pit master proud to carry on family legacy at BJ's Alabama BBQ

Grilling is an art form at BJ's Alabama BBQ in South Tampa.

"My mom does what you call the old-fashioned way of cooking," explained Brandy Williams, the general manager. "She builds a fire every morning. Takes it out every night, and has been doing that for the past 49 years." 

Owner April Moreno has been a pit master for more than 40 years.

"It's one of the hardest jobs, especially for a woman. Because you’ve got lifting, burns, cuts, and it’s hot. And the summertime, it's really hot."

April was 7 when she learned the craft of grilling with oak wood from her dad, John Stephen.

"No one can fill his shoes, but for some reason, I end up trying to be like him."

He started the business 53 years ago at the original location in east Tampa. 

"We're basically carrying the torch. He started a dream and he had a mission and a vision and we're just seeing it through," said Brandy. 

The key ingredient to their success is a simple one. 

"Hard work and putting a lot of love in it and caring about what you serve," said April. 

Brandy agrees. "We get a lot of people come in here who say they feel like they are at a family BBQ, and that's the feeling that we want them to have."

For April, barbecuing is a matter of pride. 

"I like it when my customers give me thumbs-up and say I'm the best in Florida and all this. I like my food to look good and taste good."