Leonard's Pit Barbecue


My father's name was Grady Stovall. He came to Memphis from Tunica, Mississippi in about 1940 or so and worked as a counter man at Leonard's. I was born in 1943. I have early memories, and I must have been 5 or 6, of Mom and Dad taking me for dinner at Leonard's. He knew everyone there and we got a great reception everytime. I still think of your sandwiches and they are the standard against all else is measured.

Time has passed and life has taken me on many journeys and we now live in the mountain west, but I still think you guys are the best. I'll come see you this spring if things still allow.
Keep the meat and buns ready... we will be there.
--Robert Stovall


Our favorite Leonard’s memory is a Sunday in June 2004…Father’s Day to be exact.
My future husband and I were dating and we invited both sets of our parents to Sunday lunch at Leonard’s to meet for the very first time. They seemed to enjoy meeting each other and later when I asked my Mother what she thought of Jeff’s parents, she without hesitation said, “They are just like us.” That was music to my ears.
Jeff and I married in June 2005. Our families have met either Father’s Day or Mother’s Day lunches at Leonard’s ever since and this past Mother’s Day was bitter sweet without my precious Mother being there. She passed away last December, but we have many wonderful memories of the times we shared together as a family at Leonard’s.
-- Jeff and Robin Gaines

Oh, my, I have eaten barbeque all over the country, and absolutely nowhere have I found anything to remotely compare with Leonard’s Pit BBQ. I ate my first meals there as a teenager on dates, back in the early 1960’s. It was always my favorite place to go, and fortunately, my boyfriends agreed with me. I married and left Memphis in 1966, not returning until my 20-year high school reunion with my family in 1985. Introducing my sons to Leonard’s was tops on my list, even before touring Graceland! Sadly, I discovered the original location was gone, but thanks to the Yellow Pages, I found the new store, which was quite a change from what I remembered. But the food was exactly the same – FABULOUS! We had pork sandwiches, and I showed my gang how to soak it with both sweet and hot sauces and eat it with slaw on the bun. For once in their lives, they agreed Mom was RIGHT! We brought several bottles of sauce home, and I horded it for a long time. Then I ordered some and got the bag of dry mix. It worked great, too. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten Leonard’s or been back in Memphis, but it will always be my personal benchmark for what barbecue is supposed to taste like. Umm, my tastebuds are telling me I better figure out a way to get some of that sauce again.

-- Gayle (Wooten) Vyskocil


With all the news about the floods threatening Memphis, I keep recalling the good times I enjoyed in that city. Growing up in Coldwater, Mississippi, it was a treat for us to load up the 56 Ford Fairlane and head to Memphis for shopping, baseball and food. The best barbecue I ever had was at Leonard's Drive-in, circa 1959. I still recall the coins in the floor tiles, chopped pork sandwiches, the bean pot and, to top it off, lemon ice box pie. I live in Louisiana now, and enjoy its great food, but nothing can top my memory of Leonard's. It is good to know that you are alive and well, after all these years.
-- Mike Young


When I was a young child growing up we lived in North Mississippi. On special occasions or just for fun, we would all load up in the car and go to Leonards Barbeque. This was in the late 40-s early 50's. It was and still is the best food I have ever eaten !! I live in Dallas, TX, now and have eaten all over the South and Southwest, but nothing can or ever will compare to Leonards. That pork was devine and the slaw - - - - - - unbelievable!! Still can't figure out what the herb is the slaw that makes it magic!!!! What a thrill it was for me as a kid to go to the drive-in, have the gentleman put the tray on our car window, and smell those fabulous smells!! Whenever I think of my early childhood, Leonards is always in those memories.
-- Janet Price


I was born and raised in Memphis. From the age of 17 to 21 I spent a many Friday and Saturday night at Leonard's at Bellevue and South Parkway having white pig sandwiches with chocolate milk. Back then they had dark or white meat sandwiches. We always tried to park back by the smoker because it smelled so good. Hang in there Leonard's, you are the best.
-- Bill Linyard


My dad went to UT Dental School in the early 40's, and I think he ate all his meals at Leonard's! He said they had the best BBQ in town, but I don't know he knew, as he never ate at any others! He started taking us kids to eat there starting back in the 50's and he always seemed to know everyone there. I thought the anniversary silver dollars in the floor tiles at the front door were the cat's meow. Many times we stopped for lunch en route to Ole Miss games at Crump Stadium, and regularly went off the beaten path to stop at Leonard's (original) when in Memphis with my own children until it closed. My favorite memories are Daddy telling us about all the nickle, dime, and 15 cent items (sandwiches, not just drinks!) on the menu. That was unbelievable because by then things were a quarter, maybe 30 or 40 cents for a super-duper jumbo and Cokes had doubled in price to a dime! My kids never believed me about those prices until I showed them an old menu in Tommy Leonard's place in Southaven a few years back. I didn't know you guys still had a store open until watching Channel 5 News tonight. Can't wait to come eat on my next trip to Memphis.
-- Karr West (Jr.)


My memory of Leonard's was my grandparents taking me to the old Bellevue location in the mid 60's (born in '58). We always went inside to eat and no visit was complete unless we had a piece of lemon icebox pie. Maybe that was the beginning of my pie addiction. I lived in the Memphis area until 1982 but now live in Houston, Texas. Texas barbecue just doesn't do it for me so every time I'm in Memphis I try to eat at Leonard's

Just before Christmas I was visiting family so I found myself at Leonard's for lunch. The barbecue was as good as ever but I wondered about the lemon icebox pie. No need to worry, it was better than I remembered (!) but now I have another problem. Darn you Southwest Airlines, why don't you fly to Memphis so I could get a cheap flight from Houston to enjoy Leonard's more often (oh yea and visit the family too)?
-- Bob Stroupe


Growing up in Memphis from 1948-1957, my parents used to take my brother and sister and me to Leonard’s BBQ. I remember to this day the special smells that emanated from inside the place. I remember that the waitresses and waiters who came to our car and took our order, never wrote anything down. They always remembered the order and probably never got it wrong.

We moved to Florida in 1957. One day I hope to return to Memphis and have some good ole Memphis BBQ at Leonard’s.
-- Barry White


I was born in Memphis in the early 50s, and my whole family enjoyed Leonard’s when we lived there. Within a few years we moved to KC, but always longed for Memphis BBQ . My dad’s job required him to travel nearly every week, and one memory we all have is him stopping at Leonard’s whenever he was on his way to the airport in Memphis to pick up BBQ to bring back to KC on the plane. I remember the brown paper bag (with just a bit of sauce staining the bag), the smell and taste of the meat (the smell must have driven the other folks on the plane crazy), and how happy we all were to have fabulous Leonard’s BBQ.
-- James Mueller


I live in Oklahoma, but my parents came from around Dyersburg. During WWII, or perhaps shortly before, my dad proposed to my mom AT LEONARD'S (the original drive-in site, of course). When my brother and I were young, no matter what time it was when we drove through Memphis on the way to visit our grandmothers, IT WAS TIME TO EAT AT LEONARD'S! I still remember the Silver Dollars installed in the floor!

Our parents are gone now, and my father was under the impression that there was no more Leonard's, I suppose because the original location is gone. Anyway, tonight, I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and they mentioned Leonard's in Memphis. I jumped up and ran to the computer! Brother and I might just have to take a road trip soon!

Leonard's has had such importance in our family over the years that "Mr.Leonard" once shared the slaw recipe with Mom. We still cherish it.
So glad to know LEONARD'S BARBECUE still dishes up that incomparable barbecue!

Thanks for the memories.
-- Janet Mills

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