J & J’s BBQ and Fish is a humble barbecue and fish fry restaurant in Pomona.
When entering, you will first notice the customers sitting down eating a variety of foods from fried fish to freshly cooked ribs. There is an aroma of foods coming from the kitchen which you can see from the counter where an employee greets you as you come up to order.
The menu has many different fish options including red snapper, catfish, tilapia and barbecue options such as beef brisket, hot links, pork ribs and many more.
J & J’s was started in 2008 by co-owners Joe Draper and Johnny Walker. Draper had always had a passion for barbecuing and wanted to parlay it into a career.
“At family parties, they would always ask me to barbecue… and I always wanted to open my own place,” said Draper.
Draper said he wanted to bring something new to the community of Pomona when opening up his restaurant.
“When I was here, this place was a sandwich shop and they had it up for sale. I just thought this would be the ideal place. We don’t have anything like (J & J’s BBQ and Fish) in Pomona,” said Draper.
As for running the business itself, one thing Draper initially had to work through was the long hours it took. Draper said he comes in hours before the restaurant opens, and leaves three hours after closing sometimes. Draper found out as well that there are many behind the scenes things that he had to deal with due to the business side of owning a restaurant.
“It’s a lot of red tape, working with the city, the county, the health department and it was kind of difficult at first,” Draper said.
When creating the menu, Draper said he got his inspiration by visiting other restaurants.
“I traveled through Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas checking out their establishments and saw what people liked the best and it kind of formed our menu,” Draper said.
Developing the side orders was a work in progress. Draper changed his initial thoughts based on feedback from his customers.
“My original sides were french fries, potato salad, beans and coleslaw, ” Draper said. “But when people started coming in, they wanted greens and I said I didn’t have that and they would respond, ‘This is a barbecue place and you don’t have greens?’”
Draper said this happened multiple times with different items, so he finally expanded his side menu to what it is today.
“That’s why I always say J & J’s BBQ and Fish with a taste of soul, the soul being the greens, black eyed peas, yams, and the mac and cheese and so forth,” said Draper.
Customers such as Serenity Jones, a regular at J & J’s BBQ and Fish, appreciate the variety they offer.
“It’s nice that I can always have something different when I come here, whether that’s a different side or dish,” said Jones.
Draper some dishes he recommends are the red snapper, briskets and ribs.
Martin Villa, a resident of Pomona, said the ribs are what keeps them coming back.
“They taste very fresh and something that feels sort of homemade, something other places don’t do,” Villa said.
Others l go for the seafood, like Elijah Jackson, of Claremont.
“I always make the drive over here because sometimes I crave good fish and this place just pops into my mind,” Jackson said.
Fish and barbecue combos that come with two sides of your choosing cost around $12 during lunch hours and around $15 during dinner hours.
Some items such as the beef ribs are only available during dinner for around $22.
The restaurant is open on Mondays and Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed on Tuesdays. For more information, visit jjbqfish.com or the restaurant, located at 751 Indian Hill Blvd., Pomona.
Joseph Chavez can be reached at email@example.com.