Monday is Memorial Day, a day the nation will honor and remember those who died while serving in our armed forces.
One restaurant in the East honors veterans each and every day in a unique way while serving up some great food.
Every day at noon, customers inside Mission BBQ put down their forks to stand for the national anthem.
“It means that people still care,” said Carole Torres, dining room leader at Mission BBQ.
It is one of the many things besides food that makes Mission BBQ unique.
“Our mission is to serve,” said Jason Jones, operating partner. “It’s to serve those who serve, so whether that’s police, fire, military, first responders; our goal is to give back and involved citizens in our community. Oh, and by the way, we have some pretty decent barbecue.”
Barbecue is at the forefront, but it’s not the only thing on the menu.
“We do brisket, sausage (and) turkey,” Jones said.
It’s an ambitious offering for an area known for one specific style of barbecue.
“To come into barbecue country and open a barbecue restaurant that’s not eastern North Carolina barbecue says something about what we do,” said Jones.
“Well, when people talk to me about barbecue, and they say they’re not big barbecue fans, North Carolina barbecue,” said Torres. “And I say no, we’re not just North Carolina barbecue.”
“All of our meats are dry rubbed,” said Jones. “Everything we have is fresh, homemade.”
“We have no freezers, no microwaves,” said Jones. “We have seven hand-crafted sauces that we keep on all of our tables. So, if you’re a Texas fan, if you’re a St. Louis fan, if you’re a North Carolina fan, we’ve got it all.
“And then you tell them that our mission is to serve, and we serve the community, and we focus on those in uniform,” said Torres. “And that gets a perk.”
Mission’s armed forces connection runs deep in Jacksonville. In fact, many of the employees have some type of military background.
Torres spent nine years in the Navy, and Jones is a self-described military brat whose father was in the Air Force.
Besides the aroma, another thing that grabs your attention when you walk in is all of the memorabilia on the walls.
“Every single item we have here has a story behind it,” Jones said.
Much of what’s on display is donated by customers, and each piece has a story to tell.
“We do a promotional thing that says, “If these walls could talk,’” said Jones. “And they go, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s my grandfather. Oh my gosh, that’s my dad.’ And then the emotional part takes over.”
“But they love the environment,” said Torres. “The fact that we say, “Yay, military. Yay, police and firefighters and EMS. They love it.”
Some say there’s nothing more American than barbecue, but at Mission, it’s America itself that keeps people coming back for more.
Mission gives back in other ways, too.
Last year, the restaurant presented a nearly $50,000 check to the Semper Fi Fund.
The money is being used to help to recover service members and their families.