By Kendyl Hollingsworth
For the Opelika Observer
Opelika native Mark Coxwell, the owner and chef behind Butcher Paper BBQ, has sought to bring a modern taste to traditional-style barbecue in Opelika since the summer of 2016.
After working for a short time at Chuck’s Bar-B-Que 13 years ago, Coxwell spent time living in Nashville and Georgia but said he always had an idea in the back of his mind for something more. It was not until he moved back to Opelika that he decided to tackle the process of bringing his idea to fruition.
“It’s scary to get started,” Coxwell said. “My goal was to start it and start as close to debt-free as possible. I’ve been pretty good about it … I feel like there’s been a good response so far.”
Butcher Paper BBQ began as a catering company in June 2016, and Coxwell ran the business part time. In May 2017, he decided to move his operations to 128 Columbus Parkway. There, he has a kitchen in which he can prepare the different meats, sauces, dry rubs, stew and macaroni he sells out of his trailer every week.
“I built the smoker by myself, and I built the trailer over the summer by myself,” Coxwell said. “I started with just a flat trailer and designed it and built it.”
It takes Coxwell almost an entire day to prepare all the food that will be sold between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. the next day.
“Style-wise … I like to call [my barbecue] ‘eclectic,’” Coxwell explained. “I don’t take from one particular style of barbecue.”
Butcher Paper BBQ has been selling lunch out of their signature red trailer for six months. They offer classic barbecue sandwiches with a choice of either pork, chicken or brisket — their most popular meat option. Coxwell said he has several repeat customers for his brisket, which sells out quickly each week. He also makes four different types of barbecue sauce: sweet, mustard, vinegar and spicy.
“Each one has its own purpose, in my mind, but you can do whatever you want to with them,” Coxwell said. “If somebody asks me, I’ll tell them with the brisket, either do no sauce or do the spicy. With the pork, I like to do the vinegar … the sweet is the go-to if you just like standard barbecue sauce … and then the mustard I would highly recommend on the chicken.”
In addition to their sandwiches, Butcher Paper BBQ offers Brunswick stew, “BBQ Mac and cheese,” ribs, as well as a variety of sides and drinks. Customers may also purchase meat by the pound. Coxwell said all of his food is homemade apart from the bread, pickles and potato chips.
“They’re my recipes,” Coxwell said. “I put a lot of work and a lot of effort into it, and I hope that it comes across. I hope that when somebody tastes something of mine, that they know that it was homemade … there was effort and there was love put into it.”
Coxwell said he has plans to expand his business, including an additional smoker to give him the potential to serve more often and larger spaces to help increase his overall capacity in the future.
“It’s a local business, it’s a small business, and we’re growing, and we want to be a part of Opelika,” Coxwell said. “I don’t have any plans to really go anywhere else. This is my home, I grew up here, I live here, I’m raising my family here—it’s my town. I want to be a part of it, and I hope that I can continue to be a part of it.”
This week, Butcher Paper BBQ will begin selling lunch out of their signature red trailer on Wednesdays in addition to Fridays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. next to Bubba’s Medicine Shop at 512 2nd Ave. in Opelika.
For more information or for catering inquiries, call Coxwell at 706-247-1215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Butcher Paper BBQ can be followed on Facebook and Instagram.