The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 16, 2014

Jo Ellis: Carthage couple remodeling location for rib restaurant

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Move over tacos and burritos, barbecued ribs and Susie Q’s are moving in.

Boomer Sooner BBQ & Catering, a popular Carthage restaurant, will be taking its place along “restaurant row” on West Central Avenue in the former Gringo’s location.

Willy and Jill Waggoner, owners, have been remodeling the restaurant inside and out and changing the adobe-style building into a down-home, barn-style place that will lend credence to the delicious meat aromas emanating from their smokers.

They are not neophyte cafe owners. Willy’s interest in the finer points of barbecuing began as a hobby. Having won some recognition in barbecue contests, he started filling friends’ requests for his smoking skills.

With the word out, he bought a 42-foot concession trailer out of Texas and set up for business on Grand Avenue behind Mizzou Liquors in 2004. In January 2005, the couple leased the old Dairy Queen cafe at Baker Boulevard and Oak Street, where they have made mouths salivate for nine years.

When the opportunity opened to buy the building on busy Central Avenue, the Waggoners jumped at the chance to more than double their current seating capacity of about 40.

Barbecued ribs are the restaurant’s specialty, and Willy said the pulled pork and beef brisket are popular choices as well. The business also features hand-packed burgers and fresh cut french fries and Susie Q’s, all cooked to order.

“It’s a family type atmosphere, and I am particular about who I hire,” Willy said. “We like to provide a good product and good service.” It must pay off because customers “come from all over — Joplin, Lamar, Neosho.”

“Jill still teaches school at Columbian Elementary but helps at the restaurant nights and weekends,” he said.

Before turning a hobby into a business, Willy was a district manager for the Sara Lee corporation for 17 years, so food has always held a prominent role in their lives.

The restaurant has a flourishing catering business as well, providing meals for as few as 10 to as many as 700 or more. Willy said the trailer is already reserved for a dozen weddings through the summer, and the recent holidays also were busy.

In their “spare” time, the couple raise a daughter who is a Carthage High School senior and a son who is nicknamed “Boomer.” With the whole family being dedicated Oklahoma Sooner fans, it was a natural progression to naming the restaurant Boomer Sooner BBQ & Catering.

“We are excited,” Willy said. “We think it’s going to be great for us, and we’re thankful for all the community support we’ve had.”

If everything continues on schedule, customers will be welcomed with new booths and tables during the restaurant’s anticipated opening the first week in April. Operating hours are being expanded to 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email

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