Paul said because Bubba’s was doing so well, he got bored. In 1993, he decided to launch a second concept, Babe’s Chicken Dinner House. Today, there are two Bubba’s, 10 Babe’s and a third concept, Sweetie Pie’s Ribeyes, which has two locations.
Joel Vinyard was 15 and Tiffany Vinyard Wheeless was 10 when their parents opened Bubba’s. They grew up working in the family restaurant, went away to college, pursued nonrestaurant careers, then returned to the family business.
Paul, Joel and Tiffany—Frisco residents and co-owners of the restaurant concepts—spoke with Community Impact about business, family and values. This interview was edited for length, clarity and style.
When and why did you open Bubba’s?
Paul: I wanted to go into business for myself. We rented a location that used to be a Texaco service station and was built in 1938. It was in University Park and was close to our house. We bought the location and have been there since 1981. At that time in University Park, anytime anyone opened any new retail they always put a real sophisticated name to it, often French. Mary Beth and I said we cannot do that, let’s have more fun with it and do something colloquial. We wanted to hear people say, ‘I’m going down to Bubba’s [to] get some fried chicken.’
When and why did you open Babe’s?
Paul: I opened the first one in April 1992. I was fascinated with restaurants that are outside of the city that you drive out to, and Roanoke was outside the metroplex. I wanted to develop a concept that was easier to manage than Bubba’s. Here [at Babe’s], your menu is kind of set—you only select your meat. There [at Bubba’s] you select every single thing. I called Mary Beth ‘Babe’ around the house; that’s where the name came from.
What about Sweetie Pie’s Ribeyes?
Paul: Sweetie Pie’s was designed to allow you to go down and have a very high-quality steak, but you wear your Hawaiian shirt, shorts and boots. You don’t have to borrow money; you can afford it. The first one opened in 2006 in Decatur, and there is also a location in North Richland Hills.
Would you like to talk about what Mary Beth added to the restaurant?
Paul: When we began, we were kids. I would go and do the building and managing of the business, and she took care of the money and the recipes. She’d come down and teach the workers the recipes.
Joel: She was kind of a wizard with the finances and in the kitchen. She’s legendary with our chefs. They tell stories of how she could tell a different butter was being used, because there was a different level of salt in the butter.
Tiffany: Mom and dad taught us how to treat people by the golden rule. Every year I’d help her decorate all the restaurants for Christmas. Mom passed away [in] December 2008. Every Christmas I have a day when I’m a little sad when I’m decorating, because I miss doing it with her. When do you feel successful?
Tiffany: I almost never meet a person who says, ‘I hate Babe’s.’ Everybody loves it. I often say I’m Babes’ daughter, and people are so excited, because they love our food, and they felt taken care of in our restaurants.
Vinyard family favorites:
Paul: bone-in chicken
Joel: chicken-fried steak
Tiffany: chicken-fried steak
Paul: chicken-fried steak
Joel: fried chicken, usually a breast and leg
Tiffany: fried chicken tenders with sweet and sour sauce, steamed broccoli, ambrosia salad, yeast rolls and fried chocolate pie
Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes
Paul: ribeye steak
Joel: smoked pork chop
Tiffany: blackened snapper with a side salad and yeast rolls
Babe’s Chicken Dinner House
6475 Page St., Frisco
Bubba’s Cooks Country
4585 Preston Road, Frisco