Opelika restaurant keeping the Papa Joe’s tradition alive after fire

OPELIKA, Ala. — Almost five miles down the road from Papa Joe’s Barbecue is Zoe’s Ice Cream Delite. They are famous for their burgers, ice cream and much more. Starting Monday, they welcomed some new items on the menu: Papa Joe’s Barbecue.

Gail Webster is the owner of Zoe’s. Webster said she came to the Opelika are back in 1978. Her cousin, Betty and Betty’s brother (Papa Joe) were in charge of running Papa Joe’s. Webster said her mother passed away when she was 21, and Betty became a mother figure for her. After that, she began a career of 25 years of working for Papa Joe’s on and off.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Papa Joe’s Barbecue,” Webster said. “To be able to offer that service to all the good people of Opelika who have supported us for 38 years, they are going to miss it and hopefully not for long. Hopefully, she can get rebuilt. Hopefully she can get started up again, but in the meantime, if they want a piece of history, this is the week to get it.”

After Sunday’s fire, which is still under investigation, the current owner of Papa Joe’s contacted Webster about grabbing the food from the coolers, which she did. Starting Monday, her restaurant started serving all of the items Papa Joe’s is famous for.

For Webster, she hopes the restaurant is able to recover, and that while there are a lot of new places in Opelika, she said that you want to go back to the history.

“I just hope I can get through today without crying every time I make a sandwich,” Webster said. “If you get a little tears in the barbecue, they are special tears.”


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