TUPELO • Two years ago, Jewel and Terry Bumphis decided to open a convenience store because — at least according to the latter — they had "too much time on (their) hands."
Since opening the doors, their convenience store, TJ's Quick Stop on South Green Street, across from Signify, has become a popular spot for its soul food plate lunches and barbecue. But it seems the Bumphises have found just a little more time to play with. In February, the couple opened a second TJ's location, located on Eason Boulevard.
Their latest venture is called TJ's Barbecue, and while it serves lunch plates like the other location, its emphasis is the barbecue. As a bonus, the new store also is larger, allowing for chairs and tables.
"We had a lot of people who wanted a place to sit down where they could eat, and not just eat in their car or have to take it back to their home or office," Jewel Bumphis said. "They were asking for a while about when we'd have some seats, and we just didn't have the space at the other store."
Terry oversees the barbecue, grilling ribs, rib tips, wings, chicken and sausage, while Jewel takes care of the rest of the cooking. Barbecue was just a small part of the menu at TJ's Quick Stop in the beginning but soon blossomed, so TJ's Barbecue was the next logical step.
"It had taken off, which was another reason why we opened another place," Jewel Bumphis said.
"We're selling more plate lunches on Green Street and more barbecue on Eason," Terry Bumphis said.
Because the Eason store is larger, the plate lunch entrees and sides are cooked there, while Terry has his grills set up on Green Street. That means a lot of transferring back and forth between the two locations, but Terry said he plans to set up a larger grill on Eason in the future.
"People will be able to see it, but more importantly, they'll be able to smell it when they drive by," he said. "That's what you want in a barbecue place."
The barbecue menu included pulled pork, rib tips, smoked sausage, barbecue bologna and hamburgers, as well as barbecue nachos, mac and cheese bites, fried green tomatoes and wings. Desserts include peach cobbler, banana pudding and pecan pie
Although TJ's Barbecue opened a few months behind schedule, it was no fault of the Bumphises. They had eyed the empty convenience store that sits across from the former VF Factory Outlet for several months, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed inspections and the necessary paperwork to get everything opened on time.
But word of mouth has spread about TJ's second location, and some customers are even migrating from the Green Street store.
"People know we have the little store on Green and so their starting to hear about our new location," Jewel Bumphis said.
Maybe with growing popularity, the Bumphises could perhaps open a third location. But that's not a prospect they'll be exploring anytime soon.
"Now we have no time on our hands," Terry Bumphis said with a laugh. "I have to let her know in advance when I want to take her on a date night."