Jay and Michelle Tapscott were served up a surprise courtesy of two local legislators as they prepared to cater Tuesday's Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce Out to Lunch networking event.
The Calvert City couple, owners of J-Mack BBQ, was presented a certificate of recognition from the commonwealth of Kentucky by state Reps. Randy Bridges, R-Paducah, and Chris Freeland, R-Benton, at the Commerce Center.
The Tapscotts were already aware their barbecue business has been named the 2019 Kentucky Rural Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and will be recognized May 8 in Frankfort. The legislators wanted to commemorate both the statewide award and their local contributions.
"We wanted to express our appreciation for all of your contributions, not only in Marshall County, but what you do here in Paducah at BBQ on the River. The thousands of dollars you've raised has been amazing," said Bridges.
"I can tell you how much pride these two take in their work," said Freeland. "I envy their love for what they do. They're wonderful people I'm glad to call my friends."
J-Mack BBQ, along with the freight house in Paducah and Paws Town in Owensboro, are all clients of the Murray State University Small Business Development Center who have received recognition as 2019 Pacesetter Award recipients.
The Pacesetter program celebrates high-performing small businesses that are contributing to Kentucky's economy and communities.
The Tapscotts started their business in November 2015. The name is an acronym for "Jay, Michelle and Crazy Kids," and is a true family enterprise with help from Nathan, 20; Olivia, 14; John Michael, 8; and Ford, 5.
Michelle, who will mark 25 years with BBQ on the River this summer, said her parents also barbecued a lot. When she married Jay 18 years ago, "he got thrown into a family of barbecuing," she said. "My dad is the one who taught Jay to cook. He's added his own twists and turns."
Jay likes to experiment with the product, most recently with a barbecued meat loaf and barbecued deviled eggs.
According to the Tapscotts, the secret to their success in the highly competitive food field is "love and hard work."