Business spotlight: Wahoo BBQ

By Madeline Otten


Born and raised in Fluvanna County, owner of Fluvanna’s newest restaurant, Wahoo BBQ, Howie Brown is a home-taught chef. He grew up surrounded by his parents cooking but became especially interested in the joy his dad got from grilling.

“My dad is my left and right hand,” said Brown. “He got me into grilling for sure.”

Brown then started to grill on his own and after trying many different grills, he swears by the Big Green Egg. The Big Green Egg is the brand name of a kamado-style ceramic charcoal barbecue cooker that can act as a grill, oven, or smoker.

“It was what really fueled my barbecue addiction,” said Brown. “Grilling and the store are going to be my main focus and I cannot wait to give back to the community that I grew up in.”

Before opening his new location, which will be right off Rt. 53 near Cunningham Methodist Church and where the old Cunningham Market used to be, customers and community members may have already had a taste of Brown’s barbecue. Wahoo BBQ has been spotted at Cunningham Creek Winery, which is located not that far from the new location, as well as the James River Rivanna Rafting Barbecue Competition.

“Cunningham Creek Winery really helped build my following,” said Brown. “The business started off small a few years ago, but really took off after winning the barbecue competition in Scottsville.”

For the past two years, Brown has taken home first place in people’s choice from the James River Reeling and Rafting Barbecue Competition. He has one signature rub that he has for the pork, and that alone he says is enough, and so believe his customers. The awards will be proudly displayed in the new location. And for those who enjoy sauce with their pork, Wahoo BBQ will also offer different sauces to add even more flavor.

And how did it get the name Wahoo BBQ when located in Fluvanna County? While most customers think Wahoo BBQ got its name associated from the University of Virginia (U.Va.), they are not entirely wrong. Brown grew up watching U.Va. sports and is still a fan of the Cavilers, one of the inspirations behind the name. The other is it named after the Wahoo fish, which is similar to the swordfish.

“Two of my favorite things are fishing and being a U.Va. fan,” said Brown. “My wife designed the first logo with a fish and a pig on it, but then we realized that the fish was a tuna and it needed to change.”

In addition to lunch and dinner, Wahoo BBQ will also be serving breakfast for those who heading into work early. Even students can stop by before school since the hours of operation will be from 6 a.m. on Monday-Thursdays to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday will have longer hours and Sunday will have short hours. The menu consists of pulled pork BBQ, brisket, pulled chicken BBQ, ribs, and smoked wings. Side dishes and specials will also be incorporated into the menu, like macaroni and cheese, baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, green beans, nachos and themed tacos.

Brown believes the brisket will hands down be the most popular item on his menu and is excited for the county to try his creations. Currently he gets most of his help from his family, specifically his wife, sister and father, but once the store expands, so will the employees.

“My goal is to market to the people so they won’t have to travel to far to get good barbecue,” said Brown. “I really like this location, so eventually I want to expand this location. I have a permit to use the gas pumps that were previously here, but for now, I won’t use them and focus on the business.”

While there is no set date for the grand opening of Wahoo BBQ, Brown is hoping to have a grand opening event in mid-October.

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