Christian Brantley was hustling his way through the restaurant industry in Nashville, TN when he received a call from his father, Bardo, suggesting that Brantley take his experience and put it to work on their own barbecue restaurant in his hometown of Jackson, TN. After much thought, he decided to take leap of faith and join his father in business.
With a location secured, the duo needed a name to brand their new endeavor.
“My grandmother was thinking of names and when we told her the location of the building, she said that when she was a little girl, the name of the building was West Alley and they always had live music. We knew instantly that was it. That was our name,” said Brantley.
In 2013 West Alley BBQ opened its doors in Jackson, specializing in Tennessee-style barbecue made with vinegar-based sauces. Business was booming when Brantley received another call from his dad, this time about opening a location in Chandler, Arizona where Bardo now resided.
“I was like ‘No!’”, he said with a laugh. “Eventually my dad flew me out to Arizona. I could see that there was a need for our concept and ended up meeting Pat Stratman who owned a two-story building here in Downtown Chandler. When he said he was putting a cigar bar on the second level we knew it was the perfect combo.” He said.
Stratman suggested the pair enter a local barbecue festival to spread the word about their brand and really show off what they do best.
“As we got closer to the event I started freaking out because they were expecting 25,000 people and I didn’t have a pit, tools or resources,” Brantley recalled. “I flew out our pit-master out from Tennessee and my little brother was already here, so we all got to work. We brought in pallets of meat and were up until 4 a.m. that day cooking sauces in my brother’s apartment.”
Although exhausted, they had their games-faces on and completely ran out of food at the festival. Stratman was impressed by what he saw and the Brantley’s signed a lease for 111 W. Boston St. in Chandler, Arizona.
Today, West Alley BBQ Chandler is home to an incredible menu of food, including ribs, pulled pork, brisket, catfish, shrimp and, of course, hot chicken. It has been featured on The Cooking Channel’s “Man, Fire, Food”and in Taste of the South Magazine.
West Alley is also host to live music each weekend, with popular musical acts such as Lisa Hightower, Carvin Jones and Night-Shift, the official Commodore tribute band. Brantley says that in addition to well-known acts, they like to open their stage up to younger, up-and-coming artists.
“We are real believers in music. There isn’t an outlet for kids to be able to showcase their talents. Here they can perform on a real stage in front of a crowd,” he said.
Brantley says that two of the secret ingredients to his success are his family and the community around him.
“Family is a tremendous part of what we do here, and we want that to trickle down to our employees. Most of our employees have been with us from the beginning and they are our family,” he shared. “The support here in Downtown Chandler is really strong too. We are all local and independently owned so we stay connected and raise each other up.”
If you’ve been waiting to come to Downtown Chandler, let West Alley BBQ be the final push you need.
“Downtown Chandler is one of a kind. If you’re looking for authenticity and something unique on every corner, this is it right here.”