SAN ANTONIO - All things pointed to Derrick Willis owning a restaurant. First, he had to faith before fear to open DeeWillie's BBQ Smokehouse.
"I always knew that I could cook," Willis said. "I didn't know that I could cook for the masses."
The 38-year-old's job options had evaporated, according to his wife. Willis had the chance to move from a desk job to a blossoming passion to grill food professionally. He opened a food truck.
"We started off at home. We started doing a little catering," He said.
His wife came up the name for the business. She calls him Dee which is short for Derrick. Willie comes from a friend who couldn't pronounce his last name correctly. DeeWillie's was born after years of burned barbecue and experimenting with spices. But Willis' troubles weren't over.
"I met Derrick when he had a food truck outside on the street," Freddy Cruz said.
Cruz was a loyal customer of the DeeWillie's BBQ food truck. Willis had issues with city regulations which required him to physically cook the food on his truck.
"I said hey we can open a restaurant together," Cruz recalled. "He said hey how are we going to do that?"
Quickly. The partners leased a space at 12130 O'Connor Rd in the September 2017. They were open for business the next month.
Cruz said the customers' interest was immediate. In fact, he remembers inquiries prior to their opening. Three weeks after the grand opening DeeWillie's hosted a free food day. Customers could order anything off of the menu.
The barbecue joint serves brisket, chicken, ribs, turkey and sausage. Beef ribs and pulled pork are coming to the menu soon.
Willis said the Texas-styled smoked meats feature his special a dry rub. They are cooked slowly over oak and Mesquite wood.
Neighborhood Eats got a huge sampler from team DeeWillie's starting with the Yoakum sausage. Of course, that was an easy delicious rating.
The smoked turkey is moist, smokey and flavorful. It's really a solid menu choice.
According to Willis, the brisket is king at the restaurant. Neighborhood Eats liked it.
The ribs were better. He said they do a combination of sweet and savory. Keep doing it because the combo works!
DeeWillie's chicken is tasty too. In fact, it's just right.
Their menu boasts an array of sides: home styled potato salad, loaded potato salad, cream styled corn and macaroni and cheese. All of them were great sides for Neighborhood Eats. The restaurant also offers pinto beans too.
The banana pudding is incredible as is the pecan cobbler. The peach cobbler is a pretty good option as well.