A Touch of Texas brings barbecue back to South Grand

John “Coach” Randle is serving up his grandma’s recipes in the former Navin’s BBQ space

It’s safe to say that the recipes John “Coach” Randle will be working from at his new South Grand spot, A Touch of Texas BBQ, are tried and true. They are his grandmother’s, which means they have been feeding hungry souls for literally a century. The restaurant opened on July 3 at 3559 Arsenal St. in the former Navin’s BBQ space. A grand opening is set for Saturday, July 13.

This is not Randle’s first rodeo. Yes, he was born and raised in Texas, but until recently, he was delivering the goods from his first brick-and-mortar at 1300 Cass Ave. (The end of his lease in that space prompted his move to Tower Grove East.) Three years before that, the Crown Mart parking lot across the street served as his center of operations.

Randle’s is a moveable feast; he gets about in this city, popping up at events big and small. Sometimes, you’ll find him and his smoker at a high school football game (he coached for a decade at Sumner High School, Trinity Catholic and MICDS); sometimes he’ll be winning a trophy for “best in show” at events such as Zoofari at the Saint Louis Zoo.

“I like to say my grills are bigger than Suburban trucks,” Randle said. But, when you see them parked behind the restaurant, where Arsenal Street and Grand Avenue meet, you wonder if you’re back at the Zoo; or, actually, Grant’s Farm. These are some hefty buffaloes.

“I cook it all up,” Randle said. “Whole hogs … cows. Turkey legs, oxtails, chickens.” But that isn’t “all.” He also – intriguingly – smokes his spaghetti, the actual noodles. But he won’t say how. Randle notes that he is known for his other sides like smoked baked beans and potato salad, which are meat-free. “Vegetarians can be very happy here,” he added.

It’s a smallish shop with seating for 40; high-backed chairs and rustic tables, and striking red paint that seems to declare outright that this big guy means business. He does. Coach says he’s extremely excited about his new location. And those of us who live in the neighborhood are also excited. The first whiff of smoke, the faintest trail in the air, and we’ll be spirited off to Texas.

At the time of publishing, the restaurant’s hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday.