(Delmarvanow.com) -- A vintage telephone booth, an old wooden boat and a Santa Claus in tropical clothing are some of the things customers will find around Woody's Beach BBQ and Bettye's Big Bad Burgers.
It's clear Owner Larry Parsons aims to make a fun, eccentric environment with his decoration and easygoing environment at both eateries, which are only steps away from one another in separate food trailers.
“I try to make it an atmosphere,” he said.
With Woody's marking its 10th year this summer and Bettye's celebrating two years of business, Parsons established his brand on Chincoteague Island of offering authentic barbecue and juicy burgers and doesn't plan to go anywhere anytime soon. The 60-year-old business owner and musician will be expanding next summer with two new eateries.
“I enjoy what I do," Parsons said.
Following family footsteps
A Pocomoke City native, Parsons grew up visiting Chincoteague as a child.
When he got older, he decided to purchase a beach home on the island, but that wasn't enough for the Woody's owner. Parsons decided he wanted to commit to Chincoteague and make a living on the island.
Opening a restaurant felt natural.
“I grew up in the restaurant business. My family owned a white tablecloth restaurant," he said.
Combining his family history with past business experience, including working as a Sysco salesmen, Parsons started on the venture to open Woody's 10 years ago. The restaurant was one of the first on the island to begin the trend of trailer-based kitchens with exclusively outdoor seating.
He joined forces with a family friend who attended culinary school to help plan the menu, including their unique barbecue sauce that Parsons boasts is as good as a five-star restaurant's sauce.
While the original Woody's chef has moved on, the menu is still the same as opening day.
“A lot of these recipes are still original recipes," he said.
Bettye's, named after Parsons' mother, started as different concepts under various names until he decided to settle on custom burgers and hot dogs. The decision came right at the time Parsons saw burgers with innovative toppings, like fried eggs and avocado, becoming trendy.
Quality not quantity
With Woody's and Bettye's menus, Parsons likes to focus on doing a few items well instead of many items all right.
“Let’s be what we are," he said.
At Woody's, the eatery serves up half chickens, baby back ribs and pork shoulder which are all cooked in a large smoker. The restaurant uses a three-wood blend of red oak, hickory and cherry to create a diverse smoke.
Parsons is the main man behind the smoker and allows his pork to cook for up to 15 hours, his ribs for six and his chicken for four. He estimates the restaurant serves up 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of pork a week.
“Pork is my biggest seller by far," he said.
Customers can order meat platters or sandwiches. Parsons said the best seller is the Woody's Signature with pork and red sauce topped with onion rings. Other sandwiches include The Pittsburgh with pork, red sauce, french fries and coleslaw or the Big Hot Woody which includes pork, red sauce, jalapeño and Sriracha.
Woody's gives customers the opportunity to top any sandwich with coleslaw, called "making it messy." Sides include beans, coleslaw, apple sauce and cornbread.
At Bettye's, the focus is all on custom burgers and hot dogs.
Parsons worked hard to find the perfect blend of meat for his hamburger. The trio of brisket, loin and chuck are "bold chopped" instead of ground for a looser blend. Customers can choose between one-fourth, one-half, three-fourths and one pound burgers.
Bettye's make sure every burger is the proper weight by making them bigger and cooking them down to the proper size. Hot dogs are Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs and weigh in at one-half pound.
Customers can add anything to their burgers or hot dogs including toppings, cheese and sauces.
Both restaurants sell french fries, classically cut and cooked in peanut oil.
Building an empire
Next summer, Parsons will be bringing two more eateries to Chincoteague.
The restaurant owner purchased the Farmer's Daughter next door which he plans to transform into a Jamaican-themed eatery, Woody's Cool Runnings. He also purchased a building across the street on Maddox Boulevard which he plans to transform into Woody's Trading Company.
Continuing to build the Woody's brand is a goal for Parsons and this is set as his retirement plan. Unless, of course, someone wants to buy it all from him and he can focus on a vacation, he said jokingly.
As for the design of the two new eateries, fans can expect the same aesthetic as the current restaurants — plenty of artistic, vintage memorabilia and good food to fill customers' eyes and stomachs.
“(I like to) create some nostalgia and make people feel something,” he said.
IF YOU GO
Woody's Beach BBQ and Bettye's Big Bad Burgers
Where: 6700 Maddox Blvd. and 6700 Maddox Blvd. in Chincoteague
When: Woody's is open daily 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Bettye's is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m., hours for both set to change in September