As co-owners of Neely’s Bar-B-Que, Pat and Gina Neely have turned their family business into one of the most successful barbecue restaurants in the South. They have a shared passion for food, family, fun and each other.
“Down Home with the Neelys” became the highest-rated series debut in the five-year history of Food Network’s “In the Kitchen.” By the end of this year, the Neelys will have filmed four seasons of their show in their hometown of Memphis.
Pat has been working in the restaurant business since he was 15 years old, learning how to barbecue from his uncle Jim Neely. The Neely brothers (left to right), Mark, Pat, Tony and Gaelin, opened their first restaurant in downtown Memphis in February 1988.
Gina manages the catering division of Neely’s Bar-B-Que, which has expanded to more than 25 percent of the restaurant’s total sales. She also oversees sales of all Neely’s products, including sauces, seasonings, shirts, hats and aprons. Before joining her husband in the family business, Gina served as branch manager at National Bank of Commerce in Memphis.
Pat is a board member of the Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce. In 2007, he was named Restaurateur of the Year by the Memphis Restaurant Association. He attributes his success to a recipe of hard work, great food and consistently good service.
“When she came back to Memphis for the reunion, I pulled out all my big daddy moves. I wasn’t holding back. That girl woke up in the morning and I made sure to always have some roses somewhere around,” say Pat Neely of winning over his wife, Gina.
“But it’s funny because I always told people I would have never guessed in a million years that Pat and I would be married but you just never know who you might fall in love with. Sometimes you should stop looking because it can just hit you on top of your head like, Oh my God, this guy is actually for me. I think God knew in the big picture what we didn’t,” says Gina Neely of discovering her love for husband, Pat.
The beautiful couple believes they will make it to win it. Both Pat and Gina believe that divorce is not an option for them. They want their daughters to one day bring their grandchildren to visit just one home with both parents still together.