1 of 21
Pat believes in this old adage: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It was Gina’s cooking that really sealed the deal in their relationship.
2 of 21
Pat and Gina decided not to make a big fuss with an elaborate wedding. The couple charted a boat in Catalina and honeymooned in Baha, Mexico.
3 of 21
Once Gina came back into Pat’s life, he vowed to do everything in his power to keep his lady in it forever. A little more than a year later, they decided to get married.
4 of 21
Here are the high school sweethearts at their homecoming dance. Pat says he was smitten with Gina from the very first time they met.
5 of 21
Patrick Neely graduated from high school with a football scholarship to college. Unfortunately, he ended up injuring his knee after his freshman year.
6 of 21
Pat says Gina was the type of girl who made all the guys melt in high school.
7 of 21
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.
8 of 21
“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.
9 of 21
High school sweethearts in the 1980’s, Pat and Gina reunited at their 10-year high school reunion and were married in 1994. They have years of experience of balancing home as well as business.
10 of 21
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.
11 of 21
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.
12 of 21
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.
13 of 21
The Neelys reside in Memphis with their two daughters, Spenser and Shelbi.
14 of 21
Celebrating daughter Spenser’s debutante party are Pat, Gina, Spenser and Gina’s mom.
15 of 21
Gina started out helping Pat and his brothers grow their family business. Now she’s a full partner fully in the thick of things.
“We got a true partner in the business who took control and she earned it. I didn’t make her a partner; she made herself a legitimate partner in the company,” says Pat.
16 of 21 Courtesy of Food Network
“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.
17 of 21 Courtesy of Food Network
“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.
18 of 21 Courtesy of Food Network
Family dinners at the Neely’s home means lots of food followed by lots of laughter. Here Mark Neely, Gina, Pat, Tony Neely and Gaelin Neely indulge in their favorite dishes.
19 of 21
In May 2009, the Neelys will release their first cookbook, “Down Home with the Neelys.”
20 of 21 Courtesy of Food Network
Mark Neely is a frequent visitor to the Neely’s kitchen.
21 of 21 Courtesy of Food Network
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.
You may like
Get The Essence Newsletter and Special Offers delivered to your inbox!