A well-known Somerset family has created barbecue sauces and seasoning that have evolved from tantalizing local gatherings to teasing the palates of barbecue aficionados in a several-state region. The products are on the verge of going national.
“It starts with a rub and ends with the sauce” is the motto that sells Johnny B’s Sweet Wet Sauce, Johnny B’s Spicy Wet Sauce and Johnny B’s Bogletown Mud, a dry rub all-purpose seasoning.
The Johnny in Johnny’s sauces is John L. Perkins, retired Somerset postmaster better known as “Johnny B.” The “L” in John L. Perkins is initial for Livingston, “ ... but my daddy was Johnny B. Perkins and everybody calls me “Johnny B” because they thought I was Johnny B. Junior,” he laughed.
The Perkins name is synonymous with Somerset High School Briar Jumper football. Johnny B starred on the SHS gridiron under coach Jim Williams and coach Jerry Jones from 1964 to 1967 and son John B., now vice president and co-owner of Johnny B’s BBQ and Grill Inc., helped take the Jumpers to the state finals under coach John Cain during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Then there are Nellie, owner/president of the BBQ sauce company and Johnny B’s wife; and daughters Kathy, Beverly and Stacy. Nellie is the daughter of the late Rev. W. R. Munday, legendary and beloved Somerset minister who was on a first-name basis with political luminaries across the state and nation.
The sauces are the glue that holds the family together. It all started back during the 1970s when Johnny B’s barbecue was a staple during fellowship gatherings at Davis Chapel AME Church. Later, Johnny B’s barbecue sandwich stand was a lunchbox at festivities all across the area. Gov. Ernie Fletcher was one of many who made his way to Johnny B’s barbecue stand.