The Start-Up Story of The Barbecue Boys

The Barbecue Boys in 2021 Phillipsburg

The Barbecue Boys are Phillipsburg’s go-to barbecue spot in Northern New Jersey. Right across the river from Easton, PA, they’ve been able to bring signature barbecue and sandwich items to Union Square area. The owners, Dean and Andrew Zannakis, are two young entrepreneurs with one thing on their mind: delighting customers, smoking meats, and dishing out great barbecue. Their story is one of persistence and ability to find what their customers’ taste buds are looking for. Here’s how they evolved from Lehigh Valley locals to an award winning barbecue operation.

Dean and Andrew Zannakis are the owners of The Barbecue Boys

Lehigh Valley Natives

The brothers are natives to the Lehigh Valley Region. Located in Pennsylvania just north of the Philadelphia suburbs, the Lehigh Valley has a surprisingly diverse foodie and culinary community. Dean is a graduate from West Chester University with a double major in Finance and Economics. Andrew currently attends Penn State Lehigh Valley. They are highly familiar with the local communities and towns throughout the region.

From a Culinary Family

The Zannakis’ have a culinary background. With a rich Greek culinary upbringing, their family had barbecues throughout their early years. Their family has explained that it’s not out of the realm of ordinary to see a roasted lamb in the front yard during the holidays. Their grandfather was the original proprietor of Gus’ Crossroads. That restaurant, closed in 2017, is now the popular award winning Yianni’s Taverna and operated by their parents and aunt. All of this together prepared the brothers to have an understanding of how to run a restaurant.

A Deep Love for Barbecue

As previously mentioned, the brothers have been barbecuing, one way or another, their whole lives. Dean and Andrew began cooking and barbecuing for their family cookouts as they got older. Things really started to pick up during COVID. With school and work shut down, Dean and Andrew honed in on their love for barbecue. Smoked ribs, brisket, and other meats became not a hobby, but an obsession. Slowly but surely, the began to have an itch to bring the flavor from their backyard to the people of the Lehigh Valley. Now, they only needed a location.

Right Place at The Right Time

The COVID shock to the restaurant and real estate industry was an impactful one. Restaurateurs with great instinct, though, knew it was a great time to take advantage of a buyer friendly market. The Zannakis’ were on of them. Scouring the region for vacant places with high visibility and population became a major priority. Then, finally, the brothers found the perfect location: 7 Union Square in Phillipsburg, NJ, just across the river from Easton. Located next to Jimmy’s Hot Dog Stand, the location had an existing restaurant infrastructure and was ready for a new buyer. It was the right place at the right time.

Planning to Grow

Fast forward two years and The Barbecue Boys have now moved from 7 Union Square across the street to 4 Union Square next to local-favorite Sandbar. Dean and Andrew have expanded to a larger location with more seats and a riverside patio view. Over three years, their business was won awards, including Best of Phillipsburg 2021 by Lehigh Valley Style Magazine. Their focus on barbecue greatness has made them popular for catering, dine-in, and takeout in Phillipsburg and the Lehigh Valley over the Delaware River. They look to continue to improve, expand, and grow their operations in the years to come.

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