Is it the taste? That low and slow cooking method that allows the meat to become tender and infused with smoky flavors. Is it the tradition or the social aspect? You know, how BBQ has a tendency to bring people together for a shared meal?
We’re not sure WHY we love barbecue so much, but there’s no denying it – we do!
So, you can imagine our excitement when we recently had a chance to chat with Claire Graves of Kemp BBQ in Clovis. You are going to love this!
So tell us, who are you, where did you come from, and what do you do?
Dom Matthews is the creator of Kemp BBQ. He started the restaurant in Gustine, CA. He was from Oahu, Hawaii but moved to Merced years ago to care for his mother. He started barbecuing using her smoker and after years of practice realized there was a demand for his cooking. In 2020, he met me, Claire Graves. I lived in Clovis and have worked for PG&E for 16 years. After dating for a while, we wanted to live together and made the decision to move him and the restaurant to Clovis.
We opened the location at Herndon and Armstrong in December 2021. We work together as partners to serve fresh, homemade barbecue.
Dom and I LOVE dogs. We have two pit bulls, Cody and Zuko!
Tell us more about the business
Dom started using his mom’s smoker and taught himself how to barbecue. He continued to prefect his techniques and eventually opened up the brick-and-mortar restaurant in Gustine, CA after having seen a high demand for his cooking from his friends and family. Since October 2019, Dom has continued to refine his craft. Dom and I took a trip through Texas in the summer of 2021 to see how the big guys do it and have applied some of those lessons learned into our restaurant today.
The location on Herndon and Armstrong in Clovis has been open for a little over a year. We have worked very hard to fine-tune our operation and continue to look for ways to improve. We are always looking for the best quality meats and ingredients to use. Everything is made from scratch.
Dom’s dream for Kemp BBQ is to create a legacy that he can hand down to his sons.
There’s a lot of BBQ places around, what is it that you do that makes you stand out?
I feel what sets us apart from the rest is our dedication to making and serving good quality food. Dom and I agreed when we opened the restaurant in Clovis that no matter how big we got we would never sacrifice quality. Dom spends hours at the restaurant 6 to 7 days a week slow smoking the meats. Dom smokes all the meat using post oak and nothing else. He takes no shortcuts, especially when it comes to the brisket, which typically smokes for 12-14 hours. It makes for some long days but is worth it when we see how much our customers enjoy the food. The sides are all made from scratch using fresh ingredients.
What is it that most people DON’T know about your business?
Though not really a secret, we do serve giant Jurassic beef ribs on Saturdays (most of the time barring any supply issues). These are VERY popular. We often describe them as beef pillows. LOL! Other than that, there are no secrets with our menu. It is simple. We made the decision to keep our menu similar to what you would find in Texas. Meats, sides and sandwiches. Nothing more. No gimmicks. Just really good barbecue.
Anything coming up?
Eventually, Dom and I would like to expand to a larger location with an outdoor area. Our ideal location would be in Old Town Clovis, preferably somewhere on Pollasky. We have a vision of a backyard barbecue feel where people can hang out, enjoy good music or watch sports games and eat good food. Just like you would do in your own backyard. Also, in a larger space we can make more food to meet the demand we continue to see. It is not uncommon for us to sell out early right now.
Anything else you would like our readers to know?
I can’t stress enough how hard Dom works on providing good food and service to our customers. We have had a lot of support in the first year and we really appreciate it! We also appreciate our customers patience when we sell out. We know it can be frustrating to come in expecting to get some brisket but we’ve already sold out for the day. The downside to barbecue, if you’re doing it right, is that there is only so much you can do in a day. We our always looking for ways to maximize our output in order to serve as many customers as possible and that will never stop. We both take a lot of pride in what we do and want to share it with as many people as possible.
One way to ensure as a customer you get what you want, customers can call ahead and do pre-orders. Our phone number is 559-765-4890. We take same-day and future-dated pre-orders over the phone. We have take-out and dine-in options, as well as catering for all sizes and events.