I found a mission of honor and service in my neck of the woods.
Parked out front of Mission BBQ is a 5-ton truck called BAMBAM (Big And Mobile Barbeque Assault Machine). It serves as a billboard, a portable smoker, and a representative of their mission that proudly displays the American flag.
Two patriotic friends, Bill Kraus and Steve “Newt” Newton created a way to honor America’s military, veterans, police officers, firefighters, and first responders.
Recently, I sat down with Darin Townsend, Area Director of Operations, at Mission BBQ in Henrietta, NY. It is the first location in New York state. There are over 100 locations along the East coast. They serve up food and more with a heaping portion of patriotism.
The founders, Bill and Newt, wanted to bring patriotism back to our country to honor those who served. Hats off to them for executing this life-changing mission.
The doors of Mission BBQ opened on a significant day, September 11, 2011. They chose that day because 9/11 changed our country forever. It was our Pearl Harbor.
This mission is about taking our country back and making it great again. Our heroes make this country great.
Heroes are welcome the moment they walk in the door. Not only are they served authentic, homemade Texas-inspired BBQ and sauces made from scratch, but it is also served with respect and gratitude in a patriotic dining room.
Every day at noon, they stop serving at 11:58 am. Everyone in line is told they are going to pause for the Star-Spangled Banner. The teammates come out and stand around the corners of the restaurant, and at noon sharp, the national anthem of the United States comes on the speakers.
“We honor our country with the singing of the national anthem,” Townsend told me.
On special days like Veteran’s Day and Armed Forces Day, they have a live singer and National Guard. There is a guest of honor table. Last Veteran’s Day, there were three WWII veterans, a Korean War veteran, and three distinguished Army officers. WWII veterans always eat for free.
Throughout the year, they honor folks who have served, including first responders, police officers, and firefighters. On 9/11, they give away free sandwiches to them.
Hung on the walls are patches and pictures donated by family members of those who have served.
You’ll see a picture of Don Quigley, who served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam. His daughter is involved with the Honor Flight.
They have the academy wall honoring the four academies and the 9/11 wall in remembrance of that day.
There is a Gold Star wall for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can be free. Lance Corporal Marine Zachary Smith from the Southern Tier paid the ultimate sacrifice when he was deployed to Afghanistan at 19 years young. A picture of Zach and his wife hangs in the foyer. They had only been married for six months.
Stories of service and sacrifice fill this place. Not only is Mission BBQ about good food, but it’s also about meaning, purpose, honor, and giving back.
Townsend also shared with me, “Anytime a Vietnam veteran enters, the teammates shake their hand and say, ‘Welcome home.’”
All their service is community oriented.
There is a Veteran VIP program and birthday club offered where you get a free sandwich. The All-American Hero Cup is available year-round. A portion of the proceeds is donated to various organizations.
They take food once a week to the local police and fire departments to say thank you. Recently, Mission BBQ closed for a day to feed the homeless veterans with the message, “Our heroes served us. It’s our turn to serve them.”
Additionally, Mission BBQ gives back by donating and raising funds for various organizations. Namely, The Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, Wreaths Across America, Honor Flight Network, Navy Seal Foundation, Semper Fi & America’s Fund, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and Concerns of Police Survivors are a few.
Cheers to these heroes for a mission well done. Their servant’s hearts are making a difference daily in many ways. They encourage families to bring in pictures and patches of loved ones who have served or are currently serving.
It will warm your heart and quench your appetite when you support their mission. Well done, Mission BBQ.