Rising Star Joe Zavala of Zavala's Barbecue - Biography

Grand Prairie, RX

November 2021

Joe Zavala cooked as a side hobby from his job as an IT consultant. His father and father-in-law were the pitmasters of the family, so every family gathering, Zavala was banned from touching the smoker. But in 2015, he did it anyway. He stole a smoker from his father-in-law and decided to make his first-ever brisket. It was then that his barbecue obsession began. After a year of smoking meat for friends and family, he officially launched Zavala’s Barbecue through social media. His business was growing slow and steady: no orders the first week but more and more orders every week after, until lines of people waited outside.

In 2018, Zavala and his wife, Christian, (along with the help of some friends,) began selling barbecue out of a small alleyway next to the local coffee shop, The Brass Bean. After several months, Joe and Christian took out a loan and decided to buy a brick and mortar of their own. To keep up with his full-time IT job, they opened only on Saturdays, but due to the increased demand, eventually added in more days, including Thursday fajita nights. Joe was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2019 and through chemotherapy and treatments, he continued to run his business from the sideline. Since June of 2020, Joe has been in remission and continues to capture the hearts of locals with his South-Texas-influenced barbecue. Zavala’s Barbecue acts as a love letter to his hometown, Grand Prairie, and the community that has invested in him since day one.