Community is at the Heart of Kathy and Roger Birt’s Mission
21 years after opening their doors at Woody’s Bar-B-Q of Sebastian, Kathy and Roger Birt are every bit as passionate as day one – if not more. In 2001, the Birts were approached by a real estate investor friend who owned three Woody’s Bar-B-Q locations and wanted to open a fourth. Roger leveraged his expertise as a real estate developer of residential subdivisions and retail strip centers to find the ideal location for the franchise. He then took a step back while the more experienced Woody’s Bar-B-Q franchisee took the reins on in-store operations of their new enterprise. When their partner retired in 2014, Kathy and Roger rolled up their sleeves and jumped in to manage the front and back of the house to spectacular results. Over the course of seven years, they have increased sales by $800K, were recognized for the franchise with the Highest Sales every year by Woody’s Corporate office and secured a loyal following among locals.
The Perfect Marriage of Vision and Implementation
Pairing Rogers’ knowledge of finance, budgets and logistics and his love of exploring new efficiencies with Kathy’s background in hospitality that includes restaurant experience and a wildly successful stint as a resort property manager, the couple has a true talent for vision and implementation. They know how they want to make their patrons feel and understand how to create an atmosphere.
In addition to providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere with an authentic hometown feel, the Birts place an emphasis on the cleanliness of their restaurant – and have a painter come in every few months to touch up the walls and trim when needed. In 2019, they began Phase I of a two-part renovation – completely reimagining the original Southern BBQ kitschy feel for a more sophisticated farmhouse-inspired décor that included epoxy floors, leather upholstered booths, corrugated metal accent walls and more in the rear dining room. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic forced a hold on Phase II of the renovation – with a focus on the rest of the restaurant – including the front dining room. That renovation is now planned for Fall 2022.
Of course, the environment isn’t the only thing that creates atmosphere. Woody’s Bar-B-Q of Sebastian boasts a full bar with what Roger insists is the coldest draft beer in town. Throughout the week, they play host to “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere” All Day Happy Hours every day, Kids Eat Free Mondays, All You Can Eat Pork Specials on Mondays, Tuesday Night Trivia (a fan favorite with their guests since 2016), All You Can Eat Ribs Specials on Tuesdays, , All You Can Eat Catfish Specials on Wednesday, Prime Rib Specials on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Early Bird Specials from 3-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and All You Can Eat Bar-B-Q Chicken on Sundays.
They Don’t Do It Alone – and Wouldn’t Want To
Beyond a great atmosphere, the Birts have assembled an incredible team – from their hosts and servers to their prep cooks and pit masters. Their staff boasts a lot of longevity – with a General Manager who has been with the restaurant since the Birts first opened their doors and support staff that has been there for anywhere from one to two decades. They’re more like family than staff – and the Birts strive to make everyone feel appreciated. In return, each team member is emotionally invested in the restaurant and committed to ensuring Woody’s remains a favorite destination among their guests. It’s Roger’s philosophy that dining at Woody’s Bar-B-Q of Sebastian should be an experience that starts from the moment guests get out of their car and walk through the front door to the moment they leave. They are greeted as they arrive and checked on by multiple staff members throughout their stay to ensure that everything is to their liking. It’s a team effort to make sure customers are made to feel special – many of whom they now know on a first name basis. Roger – who Kathy has deemed the unofficial Town Mayor – makes sure to visit each guest, thank them for coming in, learn about their experience and endeavor to make sure no one ever leaves his restaurant dissatisfied.
The Birts are also happy to support former employees, one of whom now owns Blue River Delivery – which delivers on behalf of Woody’s Bar-B-Q of Sebastian throughout the area.
That Hometown Feel Extends Beyond the Restaurant’s Front Door
Both Roger and Kathy are committed to supporting the community that supports their restaurant. They are proud sponsors of the Sebastian River High School Athletic Program and love their long-standing tradition of providing the pregame meal to its football team. They are also deeply involved with the Sebastian Exchange Club – a Blue Water Open Charity Fishing Tournament that donates its proceeds to multiple local charities, particularly those involving local children in need. The Birts support Brando’s Surf Club, as well – which takes underprivileged kids and teaches them how to surf. Of course, that sense of community service isn’t limited to charities and athletics alone. Kathy and Roger are also really tapped into the local business community with their involvement in the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce. They were even named Chamber Member of the Year a few years ago.
That charitable, community-minded spirit is also present in the restaurant as The Birts give back to local heroes through special discounts. Woody’s Bar-B-Q of Sebastian offers 25% off to all first responders, law enforcement officers and hospital employees, and 10% to all active military members. Seniors also receive 10% off, and guests who celebrate their birthday at Woody’s Bar-B-Q get $10 off their meal. On Veteran’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the guest of honor receives a gift certificate for $7.99 off their next visit.
But What About the Food?
Of course, the quality of their food is also a major factor in Woody’s Bar-B-Q of Sebastian’s ongoing success. Listed among local favorites are Woody’s Signature Baby Back Ribs, Grilled Prime Rib, Southern Fried Catfish, both Sliced and Pulled Pork, Bar-B-Q Beans and Cole Slaw. Roger’s personal favorites include Woody’s slow-smoked and sliced Pork, Chicken Wings and every Rib on the menu. Kathy’s favorite dishes include the Southwest Salad, Grilled Salmon and Brunswick Stew. Both place an emphasis on the freshness of their produce – having it delivered three to five times a week through a local produce company in an effort to support local farmers. The Birts are proud to offer a diverse menu – one that provides something for everyone… quality food at a fair price.
If they’re not hard at work at the restaurant, you can often find Kathy and Roger out on the water – scuba diving, boating or fishing. They are crazy about their five grandchildren and taught them all how to swim. The couple also loves to travel and garden. At their home – located within a mile of the restaurant – The Birts are cultivating pineapple, papaya, coconuts, bananas, mangos, guava and more. When asked what they enjoy most about their work, Kathy replied very simply, “We love making people happy and providing jobs for people in our community.” For anyone who hasn’t discovered Woody’s Bar-B-Q of Sebastian, The Birts welcome the chance to make you happy, too! Their restaurant is located at 13600 US Highway 1, Suite 18 in Sebastian, Florida. To place an order by phone, call (772) 581-5767. To view their menu or place an online order, visit their webpage at Woodys.com. Their hours are 11am-9pm Monday through Sunday. Want to stay in the know on their latest specials? Be sure to like their Facebook page.