This week’s threads focused on talented black chef’s who owned successful restaurants.
Patrick “Pat” Neely (born July 20, 1964) is a restaurateur, television personality, and author. He is the co-owner of Neely’s Bar-B-Que restaurant in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. He and wife Gina host two popular Food Network television programs named Down Home with the Neelys and Road Tasted with the Neelys. The pair also co-wrote a cook book. Down Home became the highest rated debut for a Food Network show within the “In the Kitchen” series, which appear on weekend mornings.
Neely was born in Detroit, Michigan. He, age 45, and Gina (née Ervin), age 43, dated in high school. They reportedly rekindled the romance at their 10-year high school reunion. They married in 1994 and have two daughters: Spenser (age 20), Gina’s daughter from a previous marriage (as mentioned by Pat in the book Down Home with the Neelys: A Southern Family Cookbook), and Shelbi (age 14). This is the second marriage each for Pat and Gina.
In 1988, Neely and three of his brothers (Gaelin, Tony, and Mark) opened a barbecue restaurant in downtown Memphis. They were aided by their uncle, Jim Neely, a legend on the Memphis barbecue scene and owner of Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que. Jim’s sister, Beverly Neely (Pat’s aunt), is owner of Jay-Bee’s Bar-B-Que in Gardena, California, and her son, Curtis Williams (Pat’s cousin), is the general manager. Jay-Bee’s was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
After a while, the restaurant emerged from behind the shadows of their uncle. Pat and his brothers began to gain their own acclaim, appearing on local TV in Memphis.
Their barbecue sauce is now being distributed nationally with Wal-Mart.
The restaurant has thrived. According to their website, there are now four Neely’s Bar-B-Que locations: two in Memphis (downtown and Mt. Moriah neighborhood), and two in Nashville (including one at Memphis International Airport). On July 9, 2008 the Mt. Moriah location caught fire.
Pat and Gina Neely brought their prize-winning, Tennessee barbecue to New York City with their fourth restaurant project called Neely’s Pig Parlor. The restaurant, with partner Abraham Merchant aboard, will occupy the current cigar bar Merchants NY on 1st and 62nd which is slated to close this August for a Fall opening. The restaurant eventually opened in 2011 as Neely’s Barbecue Parlor. Their Tennessee restaurants closed in 2013.
In August 2008 they acquired a 2,000-square-foot (190 m2) space in mid-town Memphis slated to be a corporate headquarters.
In 2008, their cousin (Jim Neely’s son) opened Ken Neely’s Hickory Bar-B-Que in Memphis.