Commitment to family, customer service at the heart of Tom's BBQ

Brenda Ryan, owner of Chandler's Tom's BBQ. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Brenda Ryan, owner of Chandler's Tom's BBQ. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Brenda Ryan, owner of Chandler's Tom's BBQ. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
(Courtesy Tom's BBQ)
Image description
(Courtesy Tom's BBQ)
Brenda Ryan has worked in the family business nearly her entire life. She started filling condiments when she was 12 at her dad’s restaurant in Chicago. Now, she owns and runs a restaurant with her father’s namesake—Tom’s BBQ—in Chandler.

"My dad, Tom, came out to Arizona for a trip and ended up buying a restaurant,” she said. “The first one was at Arizona Avenue and Galveston Street. It was as much a family business then as it is now.”

Tom’s BBQ now has four locations selling barbecue across the Valley. Ryan owns the Chandler location, which opened in 2013. Now, her 16-year-old son works at the restaurant too.

“It’s the third generation,” Ryan said. “We’ve always been a restaurant family. It’s kind of in my soul.”

Ryan said the recipes—including the barbecue sauce—came to her father in a dream.


“He would taste things in a dream and wake up and work on recipes until he found it,” she said. “Those are the recipes we still use today. They are handwritten in a book.”

She said the barbecue restaurant is set apart by its quality and customer service.

"I am proud of our customer service; we really get that right,” she said. “It has brought us a lot of loyalty over the years.”

That customer service, Ryan said, was likely what kept the restaurant in business over the pandemic. Ryan said she did whatever she could to stay open and saw her customer base grow.

“I was taking dining tables outside; we were doing a ton of carryout,” Ryan said. “I wanted to give people as normal of an experience as I could. And it worked; I think people really wanted that. They were supporting us and supporting local as much as they could. We are so grateful for that.”•