It has been said that in addition to a third “Great Awakening,” America will be rebuilt on the wings of the entrepreneurial spirit. Stacey and Amanda Gatlin, as well as their children, are proof that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Athens, and I also have no doubt that these people of faith will work just as hard to restore America spiritually when the time comes.
Slow Motion Bar B Q is in the former location of Lulu’s Place, at 22728 Pepper Road in Athens. When Miss Betty decided to retire and close Lulu’s, it seemed like a comfort to her to have the Gatlins be the new restaurateurs. And, as is often the case with Athens Now readers, Stacey and Amanda prayed long and hard before opening Slow Motion Bar B Q. And, while they both had other full time endeavors, they felt strongly that the “Home Office” wanted them to open up a place that could be like home to customers who come in hungry for more than physical food. They must have “heard right,” as since they opened in February, they have customers that come in every day, and several come 2-3 times a week.
Amanda told me, “We want this place to be like Cheers,” (the name of a sitcom popular during the ‘80s and ‘90s) that had the title song with the “hook” that said, “Where everybody knows your name.” Amanda’s heart shows in her eyes, and her customers have obviously become very dear to her. They have told the Gatlins that “this is my home away from home.”
Their kids work at the place part time as well, and working together serves to give the kids the opportunity to earn money, learn the value of a dollar, and be together in the way that American families used to when they ran businesses for generations. The boys, Corey, 15 and Parker, 14 were waiting tables when I was there, as was their daughter Taylor, 13. The Gatlins also have another daughter, Hannah, who is 17.
Stacey just retired after 24 ½ years with the Madison Water Department. They own a trailer park, and he also does construction. However, when discussing what it took to open Slow Motion, Stacey stated with conviction that “this is my dream,” and I know from experience that when you are living your dream, the work doesn’t really matter, even when the going is tough.
I asked Stacey how he got into this in the first place, and basically he started when he was the same age as his sons. His dad was a BBQ-er, and taught him how to “put love in the food.” Stacey also knows his stuff about the art of barbequing. “Barbequing is tricky. The rub, the wood, the finishing and the sauce all have to be just right,” he said. “It takes 12-14 hours to finish,” he said, (hence the name Slow Motion!) The sauces that they use are high quality, and the extra cost is worth it. He also is very particular about the attention paid to the meat. “I am the only one that does the beef brisket,” he said. “No one else touches it, because it’s too easy to get it dried out,” he said. However, I am quite sure that someone of the kids will get the chance to learn how to do it “just right”, just as Stacey’s dad taught him.
Meat isn’t the only specialty at Slow Motion. As of this printing, they have just started serving breakfast. “We’re here early getting the smoker going,” Amanda said, “and we may as well throw some bacon and eggs on the grill while we’re at it.” Desserts are plentiful, and the banana pudding is made from scratch from an old family recipe. Every first time visitor gets one for free. They go through three pans of banana pudding per day. The chocolate pies are made from scratch, as well as the chess pie. They also have pecan pie and a number of fruit pies to finish off the meal.
I had the loaded potato with chicken for my meat, and some of their delicious red sauce poured all over it. The spud took up the whole plate, it was easily worth two meals, and was truly yummy. While I was there an elderly couple told Stacey on their way out, “These are the best ribs we have ever had.” Amanda also told me that it is common for customers to pay the tab of other patrons, even strangers.
“I want this place to feel like home, and I want people to know that Mom and Pop places are important,” she said, and tears were in her eyes.
So, if you want food with love in it, a place “where everybody knows your name,” and a home away from home, move quickly to Slow Motion Bar B Q, where it’s all done right.
Slow Motion Bar B Q
22728 Pepper Road, Athens, AL 35613
Hours: Wed, Thu, 7am-8pm, Fri, Sat 7am-8:30pm, Sun, 7am-2pm
Check them out on Facebook!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner