On a typical Tuesday night – before the COVID-19 restrictions on dine-in restaurants – you couldn’t find a free table at Owasso’s Trails End Barbecue with its all-you-can-eat ribs.

Owner John Cash would survey the crowd of families, moms with babies and guys who look like they work outside for a living.

“My mom was a great cook,” Cash says. “My friends used to bale our hay just to eat her food. My dad taught me barbecue, and by the time I was 16, he’d say, ‘You know how to do it; I’ll just sit and drink a beer.’ He’d do ribs instead of turkey for Thanksgiving. Our house was packed with happy eaters, and [Tuesday nights at Trails End] remind me of that.

“I know an awful lot of those people. It’s like a community center here.”

Thirty years ago, Cash entered a barbecue contest for fun. After coming in second, he was hooked. A few years later, he went into the business. He smokes briskets for 14 hours, ribs for five.

“It’s all based on the true smoking philosophy of low and slow,” he says.

Cash had surgery recently, so he should have been in bed resting, but he doesn’t know how to stop working. On this particular day, he closed early but chances are he went ahead and delivered a few free meals to the homebound and elderly before he finally made it home.