CRESTVIEW — The north Crestview “barbecue wars,” resolved by the purchase of Ms. B’s Bar-B-Que and Bakery by across-the-street rival Possum Ridge Barbecue, ended with the restaurant’s unexpected closure shortly after Thanksgiving.
Shuttering the popular eatery on Industrial Drive next to Johnny O’Quigley’s Ale House leaves north Crestview bereft of a barbecue restaurant and the city with one sit-down BBQ eatery, Hub City Smokehouse, in southwest Crestview.
“I really don’t know why Crestview can’t keep a barbecue place open,” local barbecue fan Kenny Curring said, adding his family often liked to pick up a rack of ribs from Possum Ridge for Sunday after-church dinner.
Also long gone is the Smoke House, formerly across the street from the Southside Center owned by Tim and Belinda Gibbons, Ms. B’s founders.
Also gone is Chappy’s Barbecue in the Shoffner City neighborhood, which the Gibbonses operated after its founder died.
Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q closed and is now a Chinese restaurant, and today the location of Johnny Ray’s is a Mexican restaurant.
“Johnny Ray’s was the best,” Curring said. “They had really good barbecue and good onion rings and wonderful pies topped with whipped cream.”
Viola Plante, who with her husband, pit master Rick Plante, owned Possum Ridge, told patrons not to give up hope, saying the couple had plans to bring barbecue back to north Crestview.
“We are waiting for a couple things to fall into place,” Viola Plante said. “Just because we’re not in the restaurant or the trailer does not mean grass is growing beneath our feet.”
Possum Ridge got its start in a big, black trailer on North State Road 85. The couple had long wanted a “sit-down” restaurant and jumped at the opportunity when the Gibbonses decided to sell Ms. B’s to devote more time to their family.
While some suggested Johnny O’Quigley’s popularity next door to the barbecue restaurant forced Possum Ridge out of business, former Ms. B’s server Sherrie Stanley, who worked for the Gibbonses at all three of their Crestview locations, said the opposite is true.
“Oh no,” Stanley said. “When O’Quigley’s opened, business became insane. We were getting a lot more business than before. When Tim took a full-time job, it was too much for Belinda to try to run everything herself. She wanted more time with her family and was spending night and day at the restaurant.”
Now, both the Gibbonses and the Plantes are doing occasional barbecue catering. While Viola Plante wouldn’t discuss the reasons for shuttering Possum Ridge, she assured fans of her family’s barbecue that a new chapter is about to begin.
“We’re working it out and we’ll have something to announce after the first of the year,” she said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.