Heroes Always Welcome Here

Mission BBQ general manager, Kirk Tyree (right) holds a poster inviting Vietnam vets. With him, holding a Mission BBQ bumper strip so veterans will know where to go, is Mike Riley
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Story and photos by Bob Nesoff

It wasn’t that many years ago that members of the military returning from combat, or any other assignment for that matter, were cussed, spat upon and denigrated because they were wearing their country’s uniform. Some were called “baby killers.”

These epithets were hurled by those who would never stand up to defend their country or to fight for the cause of freedom. Much of that has changed today with ordinary citizens not only seeing someone in uniform and saying “Thank you for your service.” Others would find themselves having dinner tabs picked up by people who are thankful. In one instance, a woman spotted a man who was wearing a “Special Forces emblem” (that the elite Green Beret) and insisted on paying for his groceries at checkout.

Bronze plaque at the entrance in remembrance of 911

But one place stands out above the rest. Not only are active service men and woman welcomed, but all of those who have served are as well. But it doesn’t stop there.

Sarasota’s Mission BBQ goes the extra mile for not only veterans, but for First Responders as well.

More insignia honoring those who served

Outside the restaurant are two signs on posts noting that these spaces are reserved for veterans. A plaque on the entrance says “Proudly Serving This Who Served.” Walk in and you can spend more time reading the displays on the walls honoring military, police, fire and EMTs.

Veterans are recognized with parking spots reserved for them

There are photos of Army, vets, Navy, Marines, Air Force and civilian such as those just named here.
It’s obvious that the management has gone above and beyond to collect artifacts, plaques, insignia of ranks from the various forces. Mission BBQ is a virtual museum of those who have served this country in the military and as First Responders.

Oh, the food. There are places all around the country that hold themselves out as BBQ restaurants. Some think putting a brisket on some coals in the back yard is a BBQ and that thought is carried along by some restaurants.

The brisket, chicken, sausage and a variety of options are what a Texan would consider real BBQ. That’s the litmus test. If a cowboy likes it, you know you have the real stuff.

The general manager, Kirk Tyree, is an Army veteran himself and he takes a personal interest in greeting anyone in uniform or whomever might be a veteran or First Responder. But not only is he a greeter, but he works behind the counter slicing and dicing like any other employee.

He takes such a personal interest that when he learned a frequent customer had penned a novel about the military and terrorists, he immediately scheduled a date for the veteran/author to hold book signing of the novel.

Insignia decorating the walls of Mission BBQ honoring military and First Responders

Viet Nam veterans receive special treatment here. They were the ones who suffered the most disdain and he does his best to make up for it and honor them. On Veterans Day, anyone who can say he’s a veteran of the Vietnam War, gets to eat for free. That’s noted at the entrance, right near bronze plaque that says: “Honoring those who serve.” And underneath that is a tribute to the other First Responders who went in on 911 as the Twin Towers burned and collapsed.

Only those who were there that night can truly know the feeling.\: the blizzard of paper still slowly drifting to the ground from offices that no longer exist; the odor from the fire that they knew what was burning. And the concrete dust more than a foot deep that was once part of the proud Twin Towers.
But even if you never served, never had a family member who served, Kirk Tyree teats all guests with the same warm and courtesy.

Honoring Vietnam veterans with “Free Grub” on Veterans Day

Mission BBQ is more than a restaurant. It is more than a museum. It is a destination that is well worth stopping in for something to eat.

Mission BBQ is located at 5231 University Parkway, Sarasota. (941) 841-9279. As an old television commercial once said: “Try it, you’ll like it.”


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