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Fast paced jobs, slow cooked food


Local nurse, sheriff's deputy share love for authentic Texas barbeque


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Husband and wife team April and Brad Thompson lead exciting lives as an emergency room nurse and sheriff’s deputy respectively by day, but in their off time they venture into the world of slow cooked Texas barbeque. photo by Catherine Brakefield.

July 02, 2008
As a registered nurse in the emergency room at Lapeer Regional Medical Center, April Thompson knows all about how quickly things can heat up.

And since her husband, Brad, works as a deputy sheriff he, too, knows all about the high-stress heat that comes along with a job.

Coping with those types of pressure-cooker atmospheres is a common bond for Brad and April. But it's a different kind of heat that drew the couple into a business venture—the heat of good ol' southern barbeque.

Brad and April moved to the area from Texas in 1991 and missed good Southern style barbecue so much that they decided to do something about it. They teamed up and opened Thompson's Lone Star BBQ—a mobile, Texas-style kitchen. While you might not be surprised to find the traveling chefs at local fairs and events, the big Texas taste of their authentic barbeque is a delightful surprise to devotees of the craft everywhere.

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Slow cooked and prepared on site over indirect heat from natural hardwood is just one of their secrets to capture the delicious mouth-watering taste of Southern style barbecue of pork, chicken and ribs.

Made with their secret recipe and garnished with delectable homemade sides like buttermilk cole slaw, country style potato salad, Texas style pinto beans, sinful corn (a blend of cheeses and mild green chilies) and Duke's green beans (sautéed with bacon, onion and mushrooms), the Thompsons have taken barbeque into a culinary art form.

"We used to barbecue all the time back home," April says, referring to their 'home' in Texas. "We never did anything with the idea of opening up our own in Texas, that is, until we moved up here."

With four children—Randi, 19, Daniel 13, Geneva, 8, and Cody, 4—they work full time and still find time to follow their dreams.

A deputy sheriff for Sanilac County Brad also does road control and boat patrol in the summer on Lake Huron. April keeps busy at Lapeer Regional in the emergency room.

"I like the excitement," April says. "Brad's work can be high-stress, too. We both like that, that's why I think we get along so well."

Though April misses the warm Texas climate during Michigan's winter months, both she and Brad are happy that they moved here, mainly because of the seasons.

"Brad is originally from North Branch and he wanted the kids to experience the different change in seasons than what we had in Texas," April says.

Some might not think partnering up in a business venture with their spouse sounds very appealing, but April finds that working with Brad is nothing but rewarding.

"It has always been our dream," April says. "I love it, and I'd do it full time if I could."

The dream was the easy part, April says. Then came the hard part, engineering that dream into a mouth-watering reality. Brad and his dad took an old travel trailer, gutted it out and totally redesigned it.

April explains that it took Brad and his dad two months of working on the trailer every day before seeing its completion. The barbecue pit is custom design-ed by Brad, made from a drum and an old cast iron fireplace. The cooking surface is separate from the heat source. The fire box is located behind the cooking surface and the temperature is regulated with multiple vents. Everything is slow cooked (smoked) to ensure a moist juicy meat experience.

"You can't rush good barbeque," says April.

There are always drawbacks with every venture. The most important thing to remember about going into a business enterprise with your spouse is never take anything too seriously or personally, April says.

Starting a new business will always have its stressful situations, but it will prove a rewarding experience if you just allow it to happen, she adds.

"Just take a deep breath and enjoy each other's input, whether it be positive or negative," April says.

The worst part of every new business venture is wondering if that business will make it in today's fluctuating economy.

"The initial investment, the time and labor, all the sleepless nights," says April. "You wonder if it will all be worth it in the end."

The Thompsons are now living their dream and hoping for the best. April says that the best part of every new business venture is seeing the culmination of a dream become a reality and that dream meeting your highest expectations.

"We love interacting with people," April says. "We stay very busy and our plans are to save up and buy a restaurant."

But with both loving their "regular" jobs, they are in the process of forming another plan to coincide with their retirement years.

"We'll just travel around and sell Thompson's Lone Star BBQ," April laughs.

If you'd like to sample the entrepreneurial couple's fare firsthand, Thompson's Lone Star BBQ will be cooking up their special dishes at North Branch Days July 4-6. Thompson's BBQ also does catering; weddings, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries and get togethers. Call 810 688-7535 for more information.

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