By Jill Clendening, firstname.lastname@example.org
January 16, 2004
Tim and Linda Williams purchased Tex’s from longtime owner Jon “Tex” Norris. Photo by Jill Clendening.
Restaurateur Tim Williams promises his customers at Tex’s World Famous Bar B.Q. star-quality treatment, and that’s a promise he’s qualified to keep.
Williams and his wife Linda, who bought the 25-year-old barbecue joint near downtown Nashville, are well versed on keeping stars happy. Tim, a Nashville native, spent more than a decade serving up grub for actors and film crew while working for TomKats Catering, and Linda, a Chicagoan, worked as a makeup artist on movie locations around the country. The pair met while working on A League of Their Own, and it’s no big surprise that they both agree that was their best gig ever.
Dishing out breakfast as early as 4 a.m., serving hundreds at a sitting, working on locations that could be so desolate they had to be helicoptered in, and dealing with whims of finicky actors was ideal preparation for Tim running his own restaurant.
“The thing I always admired when I was watching him was how he could handle all the stress and how he could handle people,” Linda said. “He taught me how to look at the big picture — to watch everything going on and always stay one step ahead. And he never let anyone see him sweat.”
The respect is mutual, and Tim said while Linda was often willing to tie on an apron and help him out in a crunch, he was never once tempted to powder the nose of a starlet. He knew his place was in the food tent.
“I always say, ‘The answer is yes, now what’s the question,” he said, when asked how he dealt with outrageous demands from those whose fame had gone to their head.
After marrying in 1994, buying a home in Nashville as base camp and the birth of their daughter Morgan in 1997, they decided to alter their lifestyles that often called for them to be away — many times on different locations — for months at a time.
Tim left TomKats and managed Herbert’s Barbecue in Franklin, but when he ran across a classified for the sale of Tex’s, he couldn’t pass it up. Jon “Tex” Norris had established a well-loved restaurant at 1013 Foster Ave. near downtown Nashville. The menu was built around slow-smoked Texas-style beef brisket, pork shoulder, sausage, ribs and even baloney, as well as homestyle sides. After two years of negotiating, Norris agreed in April 2003 to sell Tim his secrets and let him assume the Tex moniker.
While Norris’ recipes are still being followed closely, the couple has made a few changes. Linda is sprucing up the interior and adding Southwestern décor picked up from Tim’s time working on the sets of Young Guns and City Slickers. About 85 percent of the clientele are businessmen and the couple hopes to attract more women with aesthetic changes and the future addition of some menu items.
Loyal Tex customers haven’t slowed up in coming, and Norris still stops by several times a week to sample the menu.
“He says it’s just as good,” Tim said. “In fact, he told some of his friends that if he had known I was gonna do so well, he would have retained an interest in the business.”