Floyd Rothenberger, better known as JR, has been serving up some of THE BEST Bar-B-Que west of the Mississippi for the past 29 years. Having started his career at a young age working with his father in the family roofing business (ROOF General Roofing), JR progressed to become the preferred roofer of choice for all of Sacramento’s most prominent commercial real estate developers and even roofed the personal homes of the late Buzz Oates and Joe Benvenuti.
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In 1986, following over 30 years in roofing, JR met a Bar-B-Que man from Texas. After watching the process, JR noticed it looked pretty similar to his roofing tar pot and figured that cooking tar and bar-b-que couldn’t be much different. So, JR applied his best-in-class roofing skills to a best-in-class bar-b-que process and put his new smoking techiques to the test with the toughest clientele he knew… roofers (who don’t agree on anything), contractors (who always think they’re the best) and car salesman (looking for a good deal). All agreed that JR’s Texas Bar-B-Que was by far the best. As a result, JR opened JR’s Texas Bar-B-Que in November 1987 at 180 Otto Circle, near the former Campbell’s Soup Factory in South Sacramento.
A savvy restaurant operator would have never selected this middle of nowhere location; however, JR’s roofing company was located directly across the street and it just made sense. After striking a handshake deal with new landlord, JR’s first year rent was bartered with a full roof replacement for the entire building. The 7,800 square foot facility serves as a commercial kitchen, smoke house, catering headquarters and full restaurant with seating capacity of 149. Much history has passed through these doors and even happened right on the front lawn (see JR’s 20th anniversary video).
More so than the restaurant itself, which had subsequently expanded to four locations, or even JR’s own Dippin’ Sauce and Smokin’ Rub, JR became famous for his onsite catering, which has handled group events of up to 10,000 people. Countless celebrities, politicians and athletes have posed with JR for photos, which line the office and restaurant walls as a testament to his good name.
Fast forward to 2013 when JR’s long time landlord passed away, leaving the building to several siblings, who after two years finally decided it was necessary to sell the property. After giving JR the first opportunity to purchase the building (unsuccessfully), it was put up for sale. It looked hopeless for a while since JR’s lease had already expired and a likely buyer for this industrial building would be an owner/user who would naturally terminate JR’s occupancy soon after close of escrow.
Enter Scott Rogalski, Director of Lending Relations for America’s SBDC (Small Business Development Center), who had intimate knowledge of his good friend JR’s plight. Scott called Brian Jacks, principal broker of JACKS Commercial Real Estate, to see if he could help. Jacks knew of a local investor with possible interest in acquiring the building, who would write a new long-term lease with JR, so he could stay in place and continue operating both the catering operation and restaurant facility. After losing all his other restaurant locations through the great recession, it meant the world for JR to be able to keep 180 Otto Circle, where it all started. In a surprising turn of good fortune, Christmas came early this year for JR, whose unnamed investor closed escrow for purchase of the building on December 22, 2015.
Over time, JR’s Texas Bar-B-Que has received numerous awards, including the prestigious California Restaurant Association 5-Star Award for best Bar-B-Que and best catering, an award never before given to a Bar-B-Que restaurant, naming JR a triple-crown winner with the best BBQ restaurant in all the West. JR has also been a perennial winner of Sacramento Magazine’s BEST Bar-B-Que. He also appeared on an episode of “Bringing It Home” with Laura McIntosh (see video). Although, the list of accolades could go on, the point is that JR’s future is now secure and the legacy will continue. Be sure to celebrate with JR and watch for his 30th anniversary party sometime next year.
Article contributed by Brian Jacks
Brian Jacks is a Sacramento commercial real estate broker (since 1996), specializing in commercial leasing and investment sale transactions for retail, office, industrial, multifamily, mixed-use, and special purpose properties. Having spent over 20 years with Wells Fargo, he personally facilitated the underwriting, approval and funding of more than 225 commercial real estate loans totaling over $1 billion in proceeds. Jacks is the Principal Broker for JACKS Commercial Real Estate, which serves the Sacramento market for commercial sales and leasing of all property types. For more information, contact Brian Jacks:
Brian Jacks | Principal Broker | (916) 837-3456
Brian@JacksCRE.com | BRE Broker Lic. #01217349