Jack's Original Barbecue, the iconic east-side restaurant that was among Tucson's longest-running businesses before closing last August, is back. Retired military couple James and Sylvia Williams will reopen Jack's on April 6.

"There's no doubt in my mind it's going to be a success," said James Williams, who was a dietitian in the military and whose post-military career has included owning and running a Southern-style barbecue restaurant in Virginia.

"I think I'm good at what I do and I love it," said the 63-year-old, who has lived in Tucson since 2003. "If I have a good product, good consistency and good customer service, the people will come. And the location is great," at 5250 E. 22nd St.

The Williamses will resurrect the recipes that kept Jack's in business for 62 years. Williams said he also will add collard greens and cornbread to the menu for a more Southern flavor. "When you come in there, it's going to taste like you're at your grandmother's house," he said.

He will run the kitchen while his wife, who was a chief nurse in the military, will bake the housemade desserts and take care of the books. Williams said his cousin, Sonny Clark, who ran restaurants in Chicago and Phoenix for 50 years, will manage Jack's.

Williams said he has been working on the deal to buy Jack's since last October. It took the couple months to navigate Tucson's business license and permit labyrinth; they got the final go-ahead this week, he said.

The couple is inheriting a business with deep history. Jack Banks opened the restaurant in 1950 and ran it until he retired in 1992. A second owner had the place three years before selling it to Greg Boccardo and his family, who ran it 15 years before closing last summer.

"When you come in there, it's going to taste like you're at your grandmother's house."

James Williams,

New co-owner, with wife Sylvia, of Jack's Original Barbecue


Jack's, 5250 E. 22nd St., will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily beginning April 6.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@azstarnet.com or 573-4642.