Celina BBQ Restaurant Receives High Praise

There's something special about small towns and their hidden gems.

But up in Celina, the secret is already out.

"Thank you so much," shouts Dante Ramirez, as he wipes off a table. "It wouldn't happen without you guys," he added.

Ramirez owns Tender Smokehouse. It's a small BBQ joint that he launched with four business partners, including former MLB All-Star Torii Hunter.

"We do everything based on the number five," he said. "I try not to put more than five ingredients into a recipe. I don't have more than five kinds of meat. There are five business partners. I knew I didn't want to work more than five days a week. We opened on September 5."

His simple concept has people driving in from all over.

"It took us a little over an hour, with the traffic, from Mansfield," said customer John McGhee. "It's worth it."

All the customers earned the restaurant a recognition that Ramirez never saw coming.

"I had a cousin in Chicago call me and said, 'Hey, you're on the news in Chicago!' and I'm like, 'what?'"

Yelp ranked Tender smokehouse number two in the nation, on its list of top 100 places to eat in 2019.

"We had no idea that Yelp did this," Ramirez added. "We have never asked any customer to Yelp, Facebook, Google, we've never done that. I don't believe in that."

But he does believe in a higher power.

"For us, it's God," he added without hesitation, explaining that initially, Celina was never in the picture.

"Originally, it was going to be Little Elm," Ramirez said. "That didn't go through. We didn't force it. We found Celina and it just all came together."

He's already working on another location in Frisco, as his long lines grow longer.

Plus, there's now another number five.

"I know," Ramirez said with a grin. "Channel 5 is here, and that is very cool."

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