Bistro Brother’s Barbecue is Serving up a Taste Sensation in LYH
By Robin Sutton Anders
When you tuck into a fork full of juicy Bistro Brothers’ barbeque, all your tastebuds are tickled. “A lot of people ask, ‘is it Carolina-based?’ or ‘is it Texas-based?’” says Marcus Revely, who smokes the barbeque with hickory wood for 12 hours. “Ours is not vinegar-based or ketchup-based. It’s basically everything-based. This and that; it’s Virginia-based. You get the sweet and savory with every bite.”
From its home on Lakeside Drive, the family-owned Bistro Brothers serve barbeque cooked in a smoker that’s been seasoned for more than 15 years. “We have our own special rub, and the barbeque pulls straight off the bone,” says Marcus. “It complements great with our own secret BBQ sauce.”
For specialized tastes, Bistro Brothers also offers a mustard-base and a hot-and-sweet version.
Along with his brother, Burnette III, and his parents, Helen and Bernett Jr., Marcus has been making and serving food for as long as he can remember. “My mother and father have always been in the food industry, and their main thing was catering,” he says. Marcus loved the business— “you meet a lot of new people all the time and are always learning new things.”
He also witnessed the challenges first-hand. “I was just 8 or 9 years old, and I remember appreciating the good side of owning a restaurant, but also the bad side: equipment breaking down, employees not showing up or walking out,” he remembers. “A lot of people think you jump into a business and start making money, but it’s nowhere near that.”
Marcus’s dad, Bernett Jr., also runs the Bistro Deli Grille, located in the Walmart along Wards Road. Along with the freshly smoked Bistro Brothers barbeque, this location sells salads and pita sandwiches.
And his brother, Bernett III, sells their pulled pork and pulled chicken at the farmers market every Saturday.
“My father has always been a psychologist, and my brother went to Virginia Tech and is a teacher here at our local high school,” says Marcus.
You can meet the family matriarch, Helen Revely, who runs the cash register at the Lakeside Drive location, and makes the potato salad and mac and cheese from scratch. “She does all this in addition to her work in foster care,” explains Marcus, who acknowledges and appreciates the hard work and support from everyone in their family.
“What I love about smoked meat is that you can have 100 people using the same wood and the same utensils, but everybody’s meat is going to come out tasting different,” he says, adding that “everybody can do it, but not everybody can perfect it.”
The Revely family perfected their recipe back in 2009, when Marcus and his brother, Bernett III, set about creating the perfect BBQ rub and sauce. “We would make it and critique it, make it and critique it again until we got it to where we wanted it to be. We have that same recipe today,” Marcus says.
Along with Helen’s famous mac and cheese and potato salad, Bistro Brothers’ sides include homemade coleslaw, baked beans, collard greens, cajun corn, okra, onion rings, and of course french fries.
“I love our community and being able to support the people here,” says Marcus. “I have numerous people who come in and don’t have a dollar to their name. I offer them water, a sandwich, or something to eat. I enjoy making somebody else happy—and being in this position to be able to help somebody who’s less fortunate.”
Marcus can’t imagine running his business from anywhere other than Lynchburg. “I’ve been here all my life. I love Lynchburg. To me, it’s beautiful,” he says.
When he closes up shop, Marcus likes to spend time in nature. “I have days where I ride downtown and just look at the water. I love to go to Blackwater Creek and hike the trails. And I can easily go down 501 and look at the mountains,” he says. “One thing about Lynchburg: We have all the resources we need right here. When we come together, we’ll be dominant.”
Robin Sutton Anders is a Greensboro, N.C.-based writer and the managing editor of Verdant Word Communications.