By CHRIS AGEE
Founded 30 years ago by John "Shotgun" Vaughan, the barbecue restaurant that bears his nickname is still going strong as its owner plans a relocation to central Mineral Wells.
Shotgun's BBQ reopened in a building just west of town with Eric Nickerson at the helm in 2011. He said that location was a temporary home until he could find a suitable long-term building.
"Everybody was like, 'We love y'all but we want you back in town,'" he said. "It was sort of out of sight, out of mind out there."
After hearing the owner of Little China restaurant, on N.E. 27th Avenue adjacent to the Brazos Mall, was retiring, Nickerson said he was interested in moving his restaurant into the space.
"We sat down and came up with an agreement on everything and I bought it," he said, explaining that was when the real work began.
He called the remodeling project a "full swing Chinese restaurant tear down," noting, "We redid the kitchen, everything, painted the walls, ceiling, everything."
After painting the walls soothing colors and sprucing up the exterior of the building, Nickerson said his intent was to "give it a more 'good mood' feeling."
Much of the existing furnishings were able to be repurposed, he said, but the overall look of the restaurant will be completely different.
"We moved the buffet out of there and are going to put our salad bar there, and we'll have the fireplace lit, also," he said.
Additionally, a pool table set up in a rear dining room and mounted televisions will add to the ambiance.
"It's still a dining area," he said. "It's not a bar, but people like to come hang out and have fun."
A striking exterior paint job, complete with a mural of founder "Shotgun" Vaughan painted by local artist Perri Lavelle, will serve as an eye-catching reminder visible from Hubbard Street.
Nickerson said the tribute to Vaughan is much deserved.
"He's still living. But [he] started it, my dad took it over and I took it over from there," he said, sharing his appreciation for the founder "teaching him the business so my dad could teach me the business."
The menu will be largely unchanged, Nickerson explained, with two varying lunch specials in addition to the standard lunch and dinner fare.
"During lunch hours, we will have a list of 40 different vegetables," he said. "We'll probably do six or seven a day."
He said his vision is to provide generous portions of good food for a reasonable price.
"We've got to get away from going to lunch and two people spending $35," he said.
In the end, Nickerson said the community is responsible for Shotgun's storied history in Mineral Wells and he wants to offer his appreciation throughout the restaurant's new home.
"It's Mineral Wells' restaurant," he said. "Whoever comes in has an investment in it."
That theme continues on the building's interior, he noted, with tributes throughout to a number of important local people and places.
"On the wall, we will do pictures of downtown Mineral Wells in black and white and we'll also do people who impacted Mineral Wells and people who impacted my life," he said.