De’Andre Jackson knows a little bit about winning. A Garland native and former football player for Iowa State, he’s got plenty of experience with hard work, determination and giving 110%. He met his wife, Maegan, while in college and together they own Winners BBQ restaurant in east Plano.
De’Andre played football for Iowa State from 2003-2006 but suffered a torn ACL in the second half of his senior year. It was a crushing blow to bigger dreams of playing for the NFL but if you meet him, you’ll quickly realize De’Andre is an optimist. His restaurant has inspirational plaques adorning the walls with sayings like “Winners don’t wait for opportunities, they seize them.” De’Andre is a firm believer in taking life’s lemons and making lemonade (which goes great with barbecue…just sayin’).
Growing up, De’Andre’s father, Darryl, was always behind the grill in their backyard. De’Andre grew up helping his dad and learned a thing or two about barbecue. What do Texas football players love more than football? Food – of the meat variety, more specifically. De’Andre and Maegan both chuckle that he was always doing the cooking for his friends in college because he was the one that knew what he was doing.
Barbecue is a big deal in Texas. It’s kind of our “thing,” right behind cowboy boots and country music. And as any Texan can tell you, there are various schools of thought on tastes and menu preferences. The Jacksons did a lot of driving around, sampling different North Texas restaurants to help them decide on their own menu. They followed the most reliable logic when considering how their food would taste: their own. According to De’Andre and Maegan, Winners BBQ is their perfect blend of many types of barbecue: meats smoked to perfection in their kitchen, cut and prepared on the spot, with sauce neither too sweet nor too vinegary.
Winners is not what you’d expect from a Texas barbecue joint. You won’t find cowboy-themed décor or wood paneled walls with deer heads mounted behind the register. Instead, the place is sports-themed, with football posters and framed baseball cards: think Witten instead of Waylon.
When De’Andre and Maegan began their search for the perfect location, they knew they wanted to be in east Plano. It’s close to their home in Wylie, and they felt there weren’t enough places to eat in that area.
They settled on a location in an unassuming commercial strip, and the couple are still on the way to finishing it out the way they intend, but still, the place is comfy and inviting. You can almost imagine being at a friend’s house; while he’s grilling out back, you’re lounging in the den watching sports on TV, maybe having a beer or glass of wine, listening to some Marvin Gaye tunes, cranked up kinda loud, the way the Jacksons like it.
Open since last June, with a wooden deck out front and the smell of mouthwatering meats wafting from the building, it wasn’t long before they had a steady stream of customers. The line starts early and with De’Andre’s magic meat rub, it’s no wonder they regularly sell out of favorites like ribs or the MVP Baked Potato, where you can literally pile as much meat as you can eat on it. The sides are the good ol’ standards (slightly sweet baked beans, super creamy mac ‘n’ cheese, mustard-y potato salad) and yes, they have banana pudding.
You can find De’Andre at Winners BBQ every day it’s open, where he says the best thing about his job is seeing the joy his food brings others. It may not be the same as a stadium of screaming fans, but the smiles of customers as he thanks them sincerely on the way out obviously shows De’Andre is loving the interception life has thrown him.
Winners BBQ is closed on Mondays.Winners BBQ Website >