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Video: Q&A WITH TEX WELLS, EMBATTLED BBQ OWNER & MSER

Tex Wells, the mobile food vendor who operates Tex's Smokin' Bar-B-Q in North Whitehall Township, is in danger of losing his spot at Route 309 and Shankweiler Road after people complained about the smoke originating from his food stand. Because mobile food stands aren't permitted in the township's planned commercial zoning district, Wells was told to seek special exception approval from the zoning hearing board. The first of multiple meetings on the issue was held last week. Wells, who came to the Lehigh Valley from Texas a little more than 10 years ago, has said it would be a hardship for him to move because he has multiple sclerosis, which restricts his mobility, and his current location is close to his home. Wells is the subject of this week's Q&A.

Q: What did you think of the outpouring of support you received at the first meeting?

A: From all of the neighbors and from the whole Lehigh Valley, the support was incredible. My wife and I were just humbled by the amount of support we got.

Q: How has business been affected by the controversy, if at all?

A: Well, we did close this weekend. We'll be reopening next weekend. We didn't know how Wednesday was going to turn out. I cook everything fresh. We had no idea what was going to happen. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to prepare everything that goes into how we do what we do. The barbecue season is starting to pick up. There is never a good time for your livelihood to be threatened. Now barbecue season is here and people are hungry for it and we're looking through the barrel of a shotgun of not being in business anymore.

Q: What are sales typically like on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday?

A: On a three-day weekend, when Mother Nature is on our side, we're going through somewhere between 1,100 and 1,300 pounds of meat in three days. That's our whole menu: beef brisket to pulled pork, barbecue chicken, sausage and ribs…I would say our loaded baked potatoes are probably are most popular [menu item]. We put our potatoes on at about 11:30 or midnight the night before [they're sold]. They literally melt in your mouth.

Q: How did you get into the business in the first place?

A: It was a long time ago. I just couldn't find a place around here that really reminded me and gave me the taste of barbecue I had at home. I decided to play around in my back yard with it and one thing led to another. It was a few years after I got [to Pennsylvania].

Q: Did you run a similar business in Texas?

A: I was in the automobile business.

Q: Do you think your Bar-B-Q is the best in the Lehigh Valley and have you tasted anything that's been close to yours?

A: I don't want to sound like I'm conceited. Do I think it's best in the Valley? Based on six years of what customers have told us, it would appear so. There are other barbecue places around that I'm sure make a good product. I live in a small community and I don't advertise. It's all word of mouth. The community, by and large, and the Lehigh Valley and surrounding area have kept us in business for six years. The food has to speak for itself at some point.

Q: Can you tell us how your Bar-B-Q is made?

A: The barbecue is seasoned with a dry rub. Then from that point, after it's marinated with rub, we put it on the smoker for between 19 and 23 hours at 190 degrees. It's all hickory wood. Don't use any gas or charcoal. It's a specialty wood. All of our barbecues smoked without sauce. The only thing that we make with homemade barbecue sauce is our pulled pork. The secret to my success is very simple: It's nothing more and nothing less than smoking the product for a very long time at a low temperature so it becomes very moist and tender and juicy.

Q: Have you given much thought to what you'd do if you're forced to move?

A: I have not thought about what I'd do. For the most part, I think after six years of being in a very small community and for the way my family believes in treating other people and what we feel like we contributed to the community, I think it would be a very sad day for the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas if we were not able to do this.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by MORNING CALL
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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