Alumnus Reggie Anthony finds fulfillment at his family’s business.
Harding alumnus Reggie Anthony (2018) grew up in the grind of a family barbecue business in Memphis, Tennessee. Anthony’s grandfather, Andrew Pollard, and his family started A&R Bar-B-Que in 1983 in a tiny building on Elvis Presley Blvd.
“It was a real small business to start out with, but there was a big write up about us in the Commercial Appeal, which is the biggest newspaper that we have here in Memphis, and it went out, and people started coming from everywhere. We outgrew that little place we were in and bought a larger building around the corner in ‘92,” Pollard said.
Since then, the business has grown in popularity, establishing itself as a well to-do barbecue joint in the Memphis area. Even with the status and success of the store, Anthony never thought he’d come back to work in his family’s business.
“The crazy thing about it is, I didn’t want to do this,” Anthony said.
“I went to Dallas for a while and got a corporate job, which was a great experience. Then I was about to come back here to accept a different job, and my aunt Lashun basically told me that if I came back to help her manage this store, it would be mine one day.”
Coming back was a humbling experience for Anthony. Everything he was looking for in the corporate world was waiting for him back home.
“It opened my eyes, because I was thinking “I need to go chase this and chase that,” instead of realizing we already have something successful in the family,” he said.
When Director of the Waldron Center Jon Wood mentored Anthony while he was at Harding, he already predicted his homecoming.
“When he was here, Reggie and I spoke often about his career opportunities, and I kept encouraging him to consider going home to work in the family business because I knew what a great business Mr. Pollard had created,” Wood said.
Anthony remembers calling Wood before moving from his corporate job in Dallas to his new role as manager at A&R.
“He asked me what I was doing and I told him “man, I’m back at home, working in the business.” He was like “I told you what you were meant for,” Anthony said.
At Harding, Anthony developed transferable leadership skills as the captain of the basketball team and an Entrepreneurship and Management student in the college of business. When he returned home, Anthony brought his experience into his new job as manager.
“When I came into this store, I told them that I was going to be the hardest worker, I was going to lead from the front, and also I wanted to speak from a place of power built off genuine relationships rather than just authority,” Anthony said.
The employees at A&R Bar-B-Que carry on the Anthony family legacy by cultivating those relationships daily. Everyone is considered family, even if they’re not blood, and Anthony enjoys working in an uplifting and close-knit environment.
“We’ve got a great crew. A lot of them have been here since the beginning. We’ve struggled. Low is low, and there have been times where the crew has helped each other in ways that you can’t even imagine,” Anthony said.
Managers and cooks alike are constantly learning from each other. A&R Bar-B-Que prep cook Quinton Hamilton reflected on how the store has pushed him to grow as a leader.
“They want me to take the lead more, and that’s actually the biggest challenge for me is just actually taking the lead and having people follow,” Hamilton said.
Like Hamilton, manager Andrea Janes has personally benefited from the culture and community at A&R. She recently graduated with a BSA in accounting, and combines her number-crunching skills with interpersonal communication skills to serve customers.
“A lot of it is dealing with money, but a big part of my job is making sure customers are satisfied. I tell every customer that I want to make sure they’re satisfied before they walk out of the door,” Janes said.
Janes emphasized the importance of money in the barbecue business, but she and Anthony also acknowledged that sometimes a sale doesn’t have to be made for the store to care for its community.
“Especially with the homeless, with how their rates have been growing, they basically know that they can come in here and get food if they need it. That’s 80 percent of it, just taking care of people, cause they take care of us,” Anthony said.
Thanks to veterans and fresh faces alike, the future of A&R Bar-B-Que looks bright. The Waldron Center is very proud of Reggie Anthony, and Harding students and faculty alike could learn a thing or two from the employees of A&R Bar-B-Que.
The next time you’re in Memphis, be sure to give the employees of A&R Bar-B-Que a shout. To learn more about the business, follow their blog at aandrBar-B-Que.com