Award-winning customers: Oklahoma couple's love of barbecue helps send them to the Grammys
TULSA - Chris Barnes and his wife, Ali, eat at Oklahoma Joe's barbecue restaurant several times a week.
That doesn't seem like much to them, considering Chris was there every day during the first month of the Broken Arrow store's opening in December of 2011.
"It was almost like he was stalking us," laughed Joe Davidson, owner of Oklahoma Joe's.
Chris went to chiropractic school in Kansas City, home of the original Oklahoma Joe's, so he was already well-versed in "Joe's" menu. Chris was a regular customer during his four years in Kansas City, and thought he had to leave his favorite restaurant behind when moving to the Tulsa area.
A few months after buying a house in Broken Arrow, it appears the restaurant owners had the same idea.
The barbecue joint set up shop less than a mile away from their new home.
"I remember seeing the sign, 'Oklahoma Joe's Coming This Fall' and I about wrecked my car," said Chris.
Davidson refers to Chris and Ali as advocates rather than customers. The couple posts pictures of their meals to Facebook, treats out-of-town guests and even celebrated their wedding anniversary at their favorite spot.
Their customer loyalty became so apparent, Davidson gave Chris his own sandwich on the menu: The Barn Z Man.
The menu already offered the Z Man, but Chris always custom ordered the sandwich with pulled chicken as opposed to the brisket. Thus, the Barn Z Man was created. It's a Kaiser bun with pulled chicken, smoked provolone cheese, barbecue mayonnaise, and topped with two onion rings and barbecue sauce.
"The way I look at it---if a guy orders a sandwich more than a couple of hundred times, we should name that sandwich after him," said Davidson.
Davidson dubbed the couple "Patrons of the Year," and wanted to reward them even further for their passionate patronage. So he hit his friends up at Journal Broadcast Group about tickets to the Grammy awards in California, and they said yes.
"I thought Joe was 'punking' me when he called and told me about the trip," said Chris.
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