By Cari Gervin
Community News Writer
Waycrazy’s Bar-B-Que is way back there on the mountain.
But the distance doesn’t bother anyone —; not the mountain residents who have filled her restaurant for years, and not the patrons who come from all over Hamilton and Sequatchie Counties.
That’s not counting the celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Swank who have stopped in for a barbecue sandwich. Politicians swing by all the time —; Waycrazy’s even catered First Lady Laura Bush’s entourage last time she was in town.
Oh, and just about everyone on the NASCAR circuit loves Waycrazy’s. The barbecue even got Janet Waycaster an all-access pass at Talladega once.
Mrs. Waycaster started the restaurant 18 years ago with her husband Mike, who was nicknamed “Waycrazy.”
“So many people told us we’d never make it, that we were crazy to open a restaurant up on the mountain when we didn’t live there,” commented Mrs. Waycaster, who lives in Soddy-Daisy. “We’ve been here ever since.”
The couple decided to open a business when Mr. Waycaster lost his TVA job in the 1980s. He’d always had a talent for smoking barbecue, so he bought a small wagon and sold sandwiches and plates out of it.
“We had to move pretty quick,” Mrs. Waycaster recalled. “(Business) near enough killed us.”
The restaurant moved to a slightly bigger location, then another one, and finally to its own brick building 12 years ago. The Waycasters resurfaced the entire thing, inside and out, to make it look like a homey log cabin.
Mrs. Waycaster said people travel so far for her barbecue because it’s the real thing. Waycrazy’s makes its own sauce and pulls the hickory-smoked meat apart by hand so there’s no fat or gristle.
Five years ago, Mr. Waycaster died after a struggle with cancer. Mrs. Waycaster said that while her grief made it hard to go on, she had 27 employees that she couldn’t let down.
She stayed busy with work, and work has continued to increase. As this year’s political campaigns kick into high gear, Mrs. Waycaster is getting ready to deal with crowds of politicians meeting and greeting. But she doesn’t mind.
“Our barbecue’s opened a few doors for us,” Mrs. Waycaster said.
E-mail Cari Gervin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Waycrazy’s Bar-B-Que, 3720 Taft Hwy., Signal Mountain, is open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 886-3283