It Appears the O’Boys Barbecue Saga has Come to a Close

Written By Scott Joseph On September 4, 2012

{jcomments on}And so it would appear that the O’Boys saga has come to an end. Word comes from Baldwin Park, where the once popular barbecuer had its last, pitiable outlet, that the storefront has been cleared out, a refrigerator door is swung open, and trash is strewn about the floor. We wouldn’t think anything of the trash on the floor — it’s a barbecue joint, after all — but the tables and chairs being gone are a pretty good indicator that the place is closed.

How did it come to this? O’Boys Bar-b-q first opened, right about this time of year, in 1997 with a restaurant on West Colonial Drive in Orlando. It was started by father and son Tom and Chris Granville along with partner Todd Keller. (Keller later went off to open Keller’s Real Smoked Barbecue, which is still in operation in Altamonte Springs and Lake Mary, plus a franchise in Winter Park.) I think O’Boys was the first barbecue restaurant to challenge Bubbalou’s Bodacious Barbecue for bragging rights as the best in town. And because of that renown, it began to grow.

And maybe that was the real beginning of the end, because it sputtered along for the next 15 years.

There was a fire that closed the original location for a time (you know what they say — where there’s smoke there’s fire). They opened a second location, on Morse Boulevard in Winter Park in the former East India Ice Cream Company space. (That space, by the way, is where PR’s Mexican Restaurant’s owner tried to open a barbecue joint recently, so maybe the location is cursed.) 

The original O’boys closed and was relocated a few blocks east in a former steakhouse chain on the corner of Colonial and Edgewater Drives. And the most high-profile location was in the former Le Cordon Bleu/Harper’s Tavern building, which this week will reopen as Cask & Larder. It was when this location opened that I first started to see the quality of the O’boys’ ‘cue falter.

A newer, shinier O’boys was in operation on South Orange Avenue until recently. I remember being thoroughly disappointed when I visited that one. The atmosphere was soulless, and both the food and service were subpar. That location, by the way, will become a Taqueria del Sol, as was reported earlier by Anjali Fluker at Orlando Business Journal.

When the Baldwin Park spot opened, I knew that O’boys was gasping. It held on longer than I would have suspected though.

Sad to see a once-promising business fall so far so fast.

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