From left to right are Joe Parks Jr. and Joe Parks Sr., proprietors of Papa Joe’s BBQ — a mouth-watering success story.

“We use a different kind of wood process, and a rub concocted from 17 herbs and spices,” said Joe Parks, co-founder, with Christine Parks, of Papa Joe’s BBQ Pit restaurant and catering business in Decatur.

For six generations, the Parks family has been legendary for its barbecue – a mainstay of church picnics, family gatherings, funeral receptions, and football games across Atlanta. That “concoction” was a runner-up in 2007 in the Stone Mountain Village Cook-Off, and it took second place in the 2012 Atlanta Barbecue Festival. So the Parkses knew they had a winning product and sensed a market with an appetite.

“We had talked for a long time about turning our barbecue into a business but really didn’t know how,” Parks said. “I had no experience in the food industry.” Kevin McGee, ACE’s Vice President for Business Development, reached out to Sparks to offer help. “Kevin not only understood lending and business practices, but he also has worked in food service himself, so I credit him with steering us in the right direction every step of the way, from the ground up.”  Papa Joe’s now has five employees with plans for growth, and a devoted customer base, which includes an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“He told us it was a ‘federal crime’ the way the ribs fall off the bone!” Parks said. “We owe all of this to Kevin and to the staff at ACE, which helped our family’s dream come true.”