Forget the gas station barbecue, Frisco now has a barbecue at the car dealership – Texas Monthly

The smell of oak and pecans wafted through the parking lot of the Crest Infiniti dealership in Frisco. Inside, the Rotary club met in the great hall out front. Earnest Morgan guided customers to the after-sales service, where his Earnest B’s barbecue is. The dining room/waiting room was packed on a Thursday for lunch, but not all the customers were there to buy a car.

A sign reading “Home of the Texas Style Ribs” hung above the counter. I thought it was redundant given that we were in Texas, until I learned of Earnest and his wife Cicely’s roots in Mississippi. They once had as many as five Earnest B’s Barbecue locations in and around their hometown of Amory in northeast Mississippi. Earnest also sold cars there for a local dealership. He did well enough for Crest Infiniti to recruit him into the new store he was building in Frisco in 2015. He closed the barbecue joints and moved to Texas to focus on cars, but it was lonely. His family had not yet moved to Frisco. He also felt a bit out of place as an African American in a Dallas suburb that is just over 8% black (compared to 37% in Amory). “I was going for coffee and I didn’t see anyone black,” he said, so he took it as a challenge to meet people.

After my own forty minute conversation with Morgan, it was easy to see why he had succeeded. He has a natural ability to connect with people. He placed in the top 6% of salespeople nationally at Infiniti, winning an award of excellence from the company. He started a ministry at Empowerment Church in Frisco. As a pastor, he recruited followers, many of whom were his clients. Despite his success selling cars, he quit his job to lead the church full-time in 2018. All was well until the coronavirus hit, sending his ministry online. That’s when Cicely suggested they get back into the barbecue business side by side. They bought a food truck and started smoking Texas-style ribs again.

In 2020, the killing of George Floyd sparked protests across the country, including in Frisco. Earnest said he felt an unexpected call while watching the protests, and that was to bring his barbecue to the Frisco police. “All my life I’ve known what injustice was, but I knew God wanted me to help Frisco as a city,” he said, adding that his adopted city “don’t doesn’t get better as she grows if you don’t deal with certain things.” Earnest B’s barbecue fed two hundred people at the police department and then nine city fire departments the following week. everyone in his church or personal life didn’t agree with the move, but he had a message to share: “Go serve love.”

Texas-style ribs with baked beans and potato salad.
Texas-style ribs with baked beans and potato salad. Photograph by Daniel Vaughn

Earnest is now heavily involved with the Frisco Chamber of Commerce. He sits on several local councils, is a member of the Rotary Club, and gives the invocation before city council meetings. Earnest was also named Frisco Citizen of the Year at a ceremony in March. That’s quite a feat for someone who moved to the city just seven years ago.

Crest executives were impressed with their former employee and asked him to come take over what they called Crest Bistro within their Frisco service department. It had been a nice convenience for customers waiting for their car, but food-wise it was an afterthought. Earnest B’s BBQ opened with a regular schedule from last December, serving breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday.

I admit the main reason I tried BBQ was skepticism. Dallas radio station KTCK “The Ticket” ran ads from the dealership, where the owner touted his amazing new pitmaster. I couldn’t take a car salesman’s word for it so I had to taste it myself. I was expecting concession level quality, but Earnest and Cicely won me over with their hospitality and BBQ. I opted for a potato stuffed with smoked hash browns and topped with queso and Earnest’s mom’s special Mama’s Sweet Heat Sauce recipe. It’s certainly mild, but Texans won’t find much heat. The sauce was ideal for dipping the smoked chicken, as well as the crunchy onion rings.

As the sign above the counter indicates, the Texas-style ribs are the star. St. Louis cut ribs are seasoned with a complex blend and smoked until tender. They would have been awesome even if I hadn’t ordered them from a car dealership. If you’re not a fan of onion rings, try the sides of classic potato salad and Cicely baked beans. And don’t pass up the free lemon squares she gives to every customer.

I went in expecting a gimmick, but instead found ribs to be recommended, and more importantly, an amazing story of a barbecue evangelist trying to improve his new home. It might not entice you to buy a car, but Earnest B’s BBQ should be enough to get you through the door.

Earnest B BBQ
6100 Texas Highway 121, Frisco
Call: 972-581-2880
Hours: Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Pit Master: Earnest B. Morgan
Method: Hickory and pecans in a gas rotisserie
Opening year: 2021