Martin’s BBQ Joint Owner Recalls Accident That Inspired Career Switch

Martin’s BBQ Joint owner Pat Martin knew next to nothing about the restaurant business when he opened his first restaurant. He was a landscaper by trade, when a car accident in 2006 damaged his equipment needed for a landscaping contract. When he tried to go eat at a Mexican restaurant, the restaurant was closed, and Pat learned that the owner was about to put the building up for lease. Surprisingly, he jumped at the chance.

“It forced a change in my life … I just did it,” Pat told The Tennessean. “I hadn’t worked in restaurants other than a two-week stint. God’s really blessed us. I knew how to cook barbecue from college, from a guy who cooked whole hog barbecue. I ended up in Nolensville for an insurance adjustment. I left with a lease for a restaurant. it was nerve-racking, but we went for it.”

Pat may not have known how to operate a restaurant, but he quickly caught on. With 10 locations currently in operation, including in Kentucky, South Carolina and Alabama, Martin’s BBQ is being forced to move into a bigger location in Nolensville, Tennessee, where the original restaurant opened, due to the need for more space.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Pat reflected. “I learned a while ago you can’t be too emotional about a physical space. Leaving my first location was hard. But this one I am making into my catering space and leaving the drive-thru open. I will now have two in town. This is where the brand was birthed.”

The new space is 2400 square feet, with a spacious 25-seat bar, as well as a bigger kitchen, to make more of Pat’s famous food.

“It’s always important to me to be a barbecue joint,” Pat said. “It’s a place where mom and dad can have a couple of beers. It’s still open for those with kids and strollers who are there. Basically one of the main reasons for the move is I needed more engine in my kitchen. If you don’t have enough room, you get inconsistent with your product.”

For a former landscaper, Pat now says he has found his permanent calling.

“I have no intentions right now of doing anything else,” he maintained. “I have just been opportunistic. I had the ability to scale, and it’s grown. I never thought about how fast it would go. A lot of people ask me, ‘How much are you going to grow?’ I don’t have some plan intact. You never want to get away from the integrity of the brand.”

Martin’s BBQ Joint offers pork, beef, turkey, chicken, catfish and more. Find more information at