Making top-rated barbecue and his own brand of barbecue sauce was never in the plans for Gerald Anderson.
Raised in Omaha, Ne., Anderson left for college bent on leaving his mother’s family-owned restaurant and culinary roots behind to pursue a corporate career in the IT industry.
“I was always getting phone calls to come down to the restaurant to help out, wash dishes, wash pots and serve tables and when I graduated from high school told everyone I didn’t want to have anything to do with the restaurant business,” said Anderson.
Anderson enjoyed success in the corporate arena and later started his own telecom business, but in the midst of carving out his professional niche found himself drawn back to his culinary roots.
A big barbecue lover, he mixed the ingredients for a homemade barbecue sauce that became such a hit that he began bottling it and selling it to family and friends.
He served [his sauce] at a major food vendor convention and sold out close to 10 cases of ribs within an hour. A company associate who attended the event called the next day and asked him what he had put on his ribs.
“He said, I really need to know, because up until now I have never been able to eat barbecue without getting indigestion, but I didn’t get that from yours,” said Anderson of his colleague’s comments.
Later relocating to Houston, his wife developed health challenges and was told to avoid sugar in her diet – making his sauce off limits.
“She couldn’t have any of my sauce anymore, because it had brown sugar, white sugar, molasses, and all of that in it,” said Anderson.
An inventor at heart, Anderson immediately began playing around with the ingredients and soon created a sugar-free version of his sauce and began promoting it to diabetics.
Still heavily focused on his professional career and marketing another invention – a laptop holder– he put his barbecue sauce on the backburner until his wife brought it up several years later.
“My wife told me, Gerald you really need to do something with that sauce,” says Anderson.
A knock on his front door would soon become the final confirmation he needed.
“I was playing around with the sauce and decided that I was going to try to maybe start selling it at the farmer’s market when my son called me and said, ‘Dad there are some people here from Kentucky for some barbecue sauce,’” said Anderson.
Anderson thought it was strange because he wasn’t expecting anyone, but returned home to greet the relatives of a woman he had sold sauce to at a Houston inventor’s convention.
The couple had looked him up on the Internet, found his home address and drove up and knocked on his front door in search of his barbecue sauce.
“[The woman he had met at the convention] had contacted her relatives in Kentucky and the next time they came up, they loved it so much, they had to have it,” Anderson said of his unexpected visitors.
The husband pulled Anderson to the side and told him that his sauce was a hit and he “better do something with it.”
Anderson heeded the man’s words and joined his son in opening Texas Rib Factory in Richmond in September of 2012.
“We didn’t want to contract [the restaurant] out because we didn’t want to give someone our recipe. So we decided to open the restaurant ourselves,” said Anderson.
The restaurant specializes in Anderson’s signature ribs, cooked to tender perfection using programmable kitchen equipment that marinates and removes 60 to 75 percent of the fat content from the meat.
“The favorites are the ribs. We sell out of them on Saturday, and are out of them by 5 or 6 o’clock. Second to that is the chopped beef – and they are so popular because they are almost 99 percent fat- free. We make a conscious decision to trim all of the fat off of it,” said Anderson.
The restaurant also serves a variety of other selections, including shredded chicken, sausage, fried fish, potato salad, beans, fried okra, french fries, salads and chopped chicken and beef baked potatoes
Since opening its doors, the Texas Rib Factory has risen to a five-star ranking on YELP, an online restaurant rating system.
The rest, as they say, is history for Anderson.
“I started selling it and it just seemed like more and more people were starting to buy it.
His product will soon be on the shelves of a Sugar Land area Walmart and served at Sugarcreek Country Club and being considered as a potential product by Whole Foods.
Anderson describes his journey as ironic.
“I went to college, got my degree and all of that, and now it is funny because now I am running a restaurant.
“I laugh when I talk about it and know my mom is looking down on me and laughing and saying, ‘yeah you didn’t want anything to do with it, but look at you now,’” said Anderson.
Texas Rib Factory
630 Crabb River Road
Richmond, TX 77465
Hours of Operation:
Thurs. – Sat.
11 a.m. – 7 p.m.