It has been a tradition in the Coal City/Wattsville area for 40 years. But Paul Manning said, “All good things must come to an end.”
When Manning locked the door to Paul Manning’s Bar-B-Que Sunday afternoon, he locked it for good.
Since 1973, Paul Manning’s Bar-B-Que has been home to some of the best barbecue and trimmings throughout the county.
“I have had the privilege of sitting here and working here,” Manning said. “For the first 20 to 25 years, I worked much harder than I do now. I enjoy the people now, and I enjoy the coffee group every morning. I enjoy my friend Leon Nix. Leon has been part of this operation for the past 18 to 20 years, and he has been a dear friend. He is as good a guy as you would ever want to meet.”
Manning said he has met so many people who have just been super, and many have been part of his life, and have helped him through the years in many ventures he has taken.
“My ventures have required knowing people, trusting in people and being a friend to people,” Manning said. “I thrive on the fact that I lived my life, somewhat handicapped, from a chair. I have seen good days and bad days. Many mornings here did not start out perfect, but by the end of the day, it all worked out.”
Employees, family, and friends
Manning said he has come to the end of meeting the clock here.
“Most of the employees who have been around during the past 40 years saw that I punched the clock in and punched the clock out,” Manning said. “That gave me something to think about. I would start my day off with a different motive than what I really wanted to do.”
Manning said some of his employees have stuck with him for as many as 30 to 35 years, and some almost 40 years.
“I want to tell them how much I appreciate them,” he said. “There are three ladies who have been with me, and close to me and my family for 35 years, and nearly worked for me that long.”
Manning added that his mom, dad, brothers, sisters, and nieces helped him so very much through the years, and he could have not been successful without their help.
“I want everyone to know just how much I appreciate them,” he said. “My wife, Marie, and our daughter, Leann Ford, have been very active and supportive the past 32 years. I thank them.”
Manning has one grandson, Cade Walker, and a grandchild on the way.
Manning said he comes to this day (Sunday) realizing it is a big change.
“I have the privilege of serving on the county commission,” Manning said. “I look forward to being more active in the county. Visiting with people, and being more motivated to being with the county engineer, and serving economic development for our county. I want to serve as a county commissioner that don’t mind serving wherever you are. Don’t mind listening to the people. It’s all worked together for all these years.”
Manning said he looks forward to the future, visiting with the friends he has, and making new friends.
When asked how many pounds of barbeque meat he has served during the 40 years, Manning said, “Lord knows, it’s probably more than I would like to admit.”
“Time has just shuffled away from me,” he said.
How it started
Manning said he came to the barbeque after being slowed down from a wreck.
“I came to the service station, and stayed a few months,” he said. “I met a lot of folks, and saw I could make a living. I came there with $225.”
Manning said it was because of a man named Grover Bearden from Clay County that he was able to get started.
“He let me come here on consignment,” Manning said. “I was 19 years old, and he gave me the opportunity to be independent.”
Manning said he had been in business about a year to a year and a half when his daddy asked him a question.
“He asked me one day if I was making any money,” Manning recalled. “I had told him several times in the past that I had some money, and that I felt like I was on the right track. He then asked me how much money I had. I told him I had paid all my bills, and I had $127,000. That was in the 1970’s. Things moved rapidly in business for me, and it’s all related to the people I met and served through the years. It gave me the opportunity to wait on them. Life has been great when it comes to business. I deal with some things that are tough, but the good certainly outweigh the bad.”
Manning has been a county commissioner since 1977.
What others say
Sue Johnston said Manning has been very, very good to senior citizens throughout the county, but especially in Ragland.
“My husband Jack, and I have been knowing Paul and Annette (Paul’s sister) since they were nearly babies,” Sue Johnston said. “My sister married their uncle, and we’ve been like family ever since.”
Larry Williams said he moved to this area, and opened up a business, and Manning helped him get his business on the upscale.
“He really helped me out,” Williams said. “I have certainly enjoyed coming up every morning and eating breakfast with all these guys. You can’t beat them. They are the best.”
Nix said Manning was certainly a fine fellow.
“He treated me just like I was his step-son,” Nix said. “He treated me wonderful.”