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Moonies set to open Gainesville location in mid-September
Moonie’s Texas Barbecue owner Jason Martin prepares ribs just off the smoker Monday morning as the popular eatery prepares to open for the day. Martin plans to open another Moonie's location in Gainesville along John W. Morrow Parkway by mid-September.

Moonie’s Texas Barbecue

New location with opening set for mid-September: 250 John W. Morrow Parkway, Gainesville

Flowery Branch location: 5545 Atlanta Highway

After six years of operation in Flowery Branch, Moonie’s Texas Barbecue is expanding to Gainesville.

Jason Martin, owner of Moonie’s, said the second restaurant will be located at 250 John W. Morrow Parkway. He plans to hire an additional 15-20 employees for the new restaurant. The Flowery Branch location has 15 employees.

“We’re shooting for somewhere mid-September,” Martin said Monday. “We just got the keys the other day. The company that we’re leasing from did some construction for us, so we’re in the process of the painting, the flooring, the building out the kitchen, the construction phase of it.

The smokers that we’re using are built in Mesquite,Texas, and there’s about an 8-week lead time on the smoker. So we’ve got it ordered; we’re waiting for it to be built.”

Martin said he felt the time was right to add another restaurant in Hall County.

“We’ve been very successful over the last six years; we’ve grown about 10 to 15 percent every year,” he said. “We’ve been looking for a location for probably a year now. I’d say we’ve looked at 60 to 70 different locations all through Braselton, Johns Creek, Gainesville — all over the place — and we finally found a place that we really fell in love with that we knew was the right kind of demographic for our type of food in this area.”

He said the population density in the area around the new location made it an ideal location for a second site, adding that there are not many barbecue restaurants in Gainesville.

The Gainesville restaurant will seat about 80-85 people. Moonie’s in Flowery Branch seats 53 inside and has room outside for another 40 customers. Martin said the new location will have space for two cashiers and two cutting stations where the meat is prepared out front so customers can watch.

Customers who have been to the Flowery Branch location will see a lot of the same features in Gainesville, according to Martin.

“It’s going to look very similar to our current location; we’re basically just replicating,” he said. “We want the Moonie’s experience to translate over to the second location — and third and fourth and fifth after that — because we do have plans to open up several more.”

Martin said the Moonie’s experience starts with Texas-style brisket cooked on a White-Oak wood fire. He said the largest brisket would be cooked on the smoker for about 11 hours.

“The Moonie’s experience is if you want to try barbecue that is not typical to the area,” he said. “We’ve had people come in who are 85 years old and they’ve never tasted brisket before in their life. The Moonie’s experience is just coming in and having really good food, traditional barbecue that is outside the traditional of Georgia-style barbecue.”

“Our beef brisket is our No. 1 seller by far,” Martin added. “We do sell pulled pork, but people come here for the brisket. If you want to come in and try some Texas barbecue sauce, we put a lot of cumin and black pepper in it, so it’s got a lot of unique flavor that is local to Texas. It’s fun to come in and see all of your meat being prepared in front of you. That’s a big draw, too. It’s the food; it’s the service; it’s kind of the experience all wrapped into one.”

Martin worked as a computer programmer for many years in Texas and later in Georgia. He said his love for cooking barbecue started in Texas.

“I spent 11 years in Austin, Texas, before I moved out here, my wife and I,” he said. “Austin is a big tech town, but it’s also a big barbecue town. I fell in love with Texas-style barbecue. I learned my trade going to the world-class places in Texas. We moved out here and I worked for UPS corporate, and I really wanted to do a restaurant.”

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