“Deeeeelicious,” “sooo gooood,” “aaamaaazing.”
When the man under the straw hat talks barbecue, he tends to slow-mosey his vowels, Texas style.
And 60-year-old Dallas native Jack Timmons luuuuuvs to talk barbecue — particularly when he’s going on about the eats at Jack’s BBQ.
That’s the restaurant he opened last week at 35739 W. Valley Highway S. in Algona at the site of what until last February had been the Royal Bear.
At Jack’s BBQ, he says, the beef short plate ribs are “a foot long with a pound-and-a-half of meat on the bone, so tender they melt in the mouth” like a great Kobe steak.
Then there are the desserts, like his prize-winning old-fashioned smoked orange cocktail.
Or the sweet tea — earthy and savory.
Heaven for all the people who love great food, but verging on the criminal for anyone who isn’t in biting or sipping distance to those eats and drinks.
“Algona is going to be a showcase for Jack’s BBQ,” Timmons says in his pleasant, Central Texas accent.
It is the biggest Jack’s BBQ there is now, bigger than the flagship Jack’s he opened in Seattle’s SOHO district five and a half years ago, bigger than the one in Bellevue.
Authenticity and fidelity to Central Texas barbecue and Southern hospitality, he said, are the twin pillars of his restaurant.
Where Timmons came from, he said, “barbecue is like salmon is in the Northwest. It’s everywhere, you just do it. There are barbecue joints in every single neighborhood. And they weren’t famous back in the day when I was growing up. They were just barbecue joints, and you kind of knew them by their address: the one on Garland Road, the one on Buckner Road.”
“Our tagline is, ‘Jack’s Barbecue, Central Texas, Low and Slow,’ low temperature, long time to cook,” he said.
That’s how they do it at Jack’s BBQ.
Jack’s gets its beef from the Double R Ranch in Eastern Washington, which also sells prime steaks to top restaurants like the Metropolitan Grill in Seattle.
Jack’s has two giant smokers, and all of its meats are prepared there.
There’s nothing electrical about its process — just fragrant mesquite wood trucked in from Texas, burning all day, all night.
“It’s all about air flow, it’s actually convection cooking,” Timmons said. “When you have an offset smoker like we use, like those Texas boys use, you’ve got the fire on one side and the meat down a long tube. It’s about having a clean-burning wood fire. There’s a Microsoft billionaire named Nathan Myhrvold, and he wrote four books on the science of cooking called ‘Modernist Cuisine’ for sale on Amazon for about $500, so I borrowed a copy. He has a whole chapter on smoke, and he has all these physicists and engineers, and they break down the science of cooking like, all the way.”
It is the invisible gases coming off the clean-burning wood that carry the flavor, he said, not the smoke one sees, which is actually creosote, and bitter. And don’t put the meat in the smoker until the smoke coming out is clean, like a heat wave.
If Timmons appears to talk about barbecuing with a mathematician’s precision, there’s a darned good reason for that. He studied electrical engineering at Texas A&M, and while he was so engaged, developed software for the F-16 fighter jet. After college, he moved to San Diego, where he worked on the Space Shuttle before making the move to Seattle to complete job for Boeing, and then settling down for 21 years in Seattle’s Central District.
He married a local girl, and the couple travelled across Europe. He earned his MBA at Boston University in Brussels in 1992. He returned to the United States and got a job with the PACCAR truck company, then worked at Microsoft from 1996 to 2009.
When he came to the Northwest, Timmons recalled, the barbecue he found wasn’t like what he’d grown up on in Central Texas. It was more what he calls Southern style, “a pig in sauce and everyone excited about their sauce.”
Where he came from, the meat, not barbecue sauce, was king.
Missing that in Seattle, Timmons dug a barbecue pit in his backyard and started following Daniel Vaughn, a Dallas-based barbecue guru on Twitter and television who has reviewed more than 500 barbecue restaurants in Texas.
“Vaughn talked about the different parts of the brisket, the flat and the point and the juiciness of this and that,” said Timmons. “He mentioned Barbecue Summer Camp, and I thought, what the hell is that? The camp was at Texas A&M, where I’d gone to school, so I got into it.”
After a week and a half of camp, he took another class while he was there called “Beef 101,” which was for industry professionals and people from all over the world who’d come to learn about the beef industry in America. Then he was on to Austin for a week for him with a couple of buddies on a tour of Central Texas barbecue joints, all the while learning and picking up hints, imbibing lessons.
Returning to Seattle, he bought an offset smoker, imported some post oak, mesquite and hickory, and started the Seattle Brisket Experience.
“This place here is going to be a showcase. We want people to take tours, and we’re going to offer barbecue classes. Right now, they’re virtual, but in the future we’ll show ‘em how to trim meats, how to season ‘em, how to smoke ‘em, how to know when they’re done, how to slice ‘em, how to hold ‘em when you serve ‘em, things like that,” Timmons said.
Jack’s is also going to be a party place, he said, with live music, when that is possible again.
The 5,000-square-foot restaurant offers inside dining, and can fit 200 people at the max, proper, though it does require social distancing.
The Algona community, Timmons said, has already embraced his restaurant.
“Algona, and all those neighborhoods down there, we’re having a total love affair. It’s so cool to be in a place that’s so different from Seattle, and I’ve been in Seattle for 30 something years. It’s spread out. A lot of people in Seattle have no idea where Algona is. I didn’t know where it was.”
Hours of operation for now are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.