HOUSTON -- Miss Mary loves running the show and greeting the customers at Gatlin's BBQ at 1221 W. 19th Street in The Heights.

I want them to feel like they're a part of our home, she said.

(I feel) like she's an auntie or extended family of mine, always gives me a hug and greets me, said regular customer James Boone.

Miss Mary s husband works in the kitchen.

Their son Greg owns the place. He left the corporate world of commercial real estate to open his restaurant four years ago and he has no regrets.

I wouldn't have it any other way, Gatlin said.

He was a cornerback and safety at Rice University. He was a triple major, graduating with degrees in economics, sports management and kinesiology.

His food gets nothing but A+ marks from his customers.

We love the lemon pound cake and the brisket and the peach cobbler, diner Deon Henry said. She added that the ribs are to die for.

I looked up great barbecue in Houston, Texas. We're from Florida and this place came up, said first-time customer Joe Raio.

Gatlin's has a tiny dining room, just three tables.

The food is big but the place is small, Boone said.

A covered patio holds the constant overflow crowd, which is full of folks who work in the neighborhood.

Click here to visit Gatlin's BBq's website.

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