The Reston shop debuted last month.
It has been 14 years since the first Willard’s BBQ opened. In those years, the restaurant won awards from local publications, but unlike many restaurants that take that popularity and immediately franchise, Willard’s remained a stand-alone location. It took a stroke of good luck and great timing for the owner of the barbecue spot to decide to expand in Reston last month.
“The ultimate reason is my landlord had a space in Reston,” says Chris Janowski, owner of both of the Willard’s restaurants. “And my young kids are older now, so I have the time to open a second location.”
The original Willard’s opened in Chantilly in 2003. The restaurant doesn’t focus exclusively on one type of barbecue; the menu offers a bit from every method. The pulled pork is North Carolina-style, the brisket uses Texas techniques, and the ribs bear the distinct Memphis method.
“We do the whole range of barbecue,” says Janowski. “That’s because there is not one native style to Northern Virginia.”
The concept of a new Willard’s came about a year ago, according to Janowski. This new store is 30 seats, which makes it about a third of the size of its predecessor. Because of that, the new site is geared more toward takeout. Two years ago, the original location doubled its capacity to 100 seats. Other than that, Janowski says, the menu, type of smoker and recipes will all be the same as the original Chantilly location.
For now, the two locations are enough for Janowski. His focus shifts toward growing the catering side of the business and continuing to build a loyal and regular following at both of his barbecue spots. // Willard’s BBQ: 11790 E. Baron Cameron Ave., Reston