The Falcon Voice

Interview: John Aldecoa, the Brother in Brother John’s

Jacob Brandt, Editor-in-Chief

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Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ

1801 N. Stone Ave., Tucson, Arizona 85705


Listen to the whole interview here.


JACOB: My name is Jacob Brandt, editor-in-chief of the Falcon Voice, and I am here today with John Aldecoa, owner of Brother John’s Barbeque, a restaurant in Tucson that has been getting a lot of recognition lately. So hi, John.

JOHN: Hello.

JACOB: So could you start by telling me what Brother John’s is?

JOHN: Well, the full name is Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon, and Barbeque. It’s a concept that me and my brother developed and we have been a full service restaurant with a full service bar for about two years since December, next month is our two-year anniversary. So it’s an independent business ran by me, my brother, and one other partner― and open seven days a week. We do lunch and dinner, late night music on the weekends, and all that fun stuff.

JACOB: I am well aware of all the parties and stuff like that.

JOHN: [Laughing] Yeah and it’s sortof this triple concept: We an eight-hundred square foot banquet room so we could do private parties in there; and then, our beer― our bourbon lounge is set up― a lot of happy hour mixtures in there; and then we have the outside beer garden where we have seating for outside. So all the areas are, plus the main dining area, it’s like a merry of the concepts all in one.

JACOB: Cool, and is there any family heritage to the restaurant like recipes or…?

JOHN: Um, a couple of recipes [have] some, but really this is a big business concept in a sense that we actually use an executive chef to put together most of the menu, especially with regards the way we do our barbeque.

JACOB: How often does he come to the restaurant?

JOHN: He comes down about once every six months or so. He was there for the initial build out, the grand opening, and then a few times checking on things. His name’s Nate, he’s a […] chef out of New York City where my brother lives.

JACOB: What is the quality of the food served there? Like are all the meats and ingredients grown or made locally?

JOHN: Well we locally source as much as we can and as far as quality, we do use up to two-thirds of all our meats so their are all choice or prime. We never use frozen meats, all the meats are fresh which including the chicken, which is pretty rare because most chicken gets frozen or was frozen at one point. So we locally source whatever we can get, but the fact of the matter is the volume we are doing there really isn’t too many proprietors who can keep up with demand.

JACOB: Of course, the restaurant has been really popular.

JOHN: Just in generally, we are a large facility, you know. We go through a lot of food. And so we use White Meadow Farms for a lot of our products and then we also use 1855 Farms for all the beef, so that’s angus, and they mainly raise steer out there and then the produce is all done locally. We’re pretty high quality, we don’t―

JACOB: So you don’t skip on anything―

JOHN: No, no. We are definitely on the high-end of quality.

JACOB: And what would you say your favorite dish get there? If you were just a new person coming in, what would you recommend?

JOHN: Well, I tell most people our most popular item on the menu is the brisket.

JACOB: The brisket?

JOHN: The brisket is by far the most popular because it’s a slow smoke process which takes about a total of eighteen-nineteen hours of cook time and preparation. So that’s pretty intense. I sell brisket two-to-one over any other meat. And our second most popular item is the pull pork, and the baby-back ribs next. And believe it or not, our burgers are really popular.

JACOB: Oh, really?
JOHN: Yeah, we sell a lot of lot of burgers.

JACOB: Wow. I know pull pork is my favorite.

JOHN: Yeah, yeah, that’s a classic favorite. One of marketing concepts right now is we are pushing is we are more than just barbecue because we actually do our buttermilk fried chicken, which is phenomenal We have a beef short-rib which is amazing. And the chef just started curing our own house homemade pastrami.

JACOB: Pastrami sounds good.

JOHN: And, you know, we have chicken wings and salads; so it’s not like your typical barbecue place that literally sells only barbecue and a couple sides and that’s it. We have a full service menu.

JACOB: And the mac-and-cheese is really good. I had it, I think, last week. What is the breading stuff you put on there?

JOHN: Those are just toasted breadcrumbs.

JACOB: Oh really?

JOHN: Yeah, the cool thing about the mac-and-cheese is that we prepare it to order so…

JACOB: So it’s just made right there.

JOHN: Yeah, yeah. And the noodles are all […] already portioned out and when you order it we have the cheese sauce and then we saute it, the mac-and-cheese and the cheese sauce together and put in the dish, top it with breadcrumbs. That’s why the mac-and-cheese is not like the one you would get at a cafeteria. It ain’t one gigantic thing of mac-and-cheese.
JACOB: And it’s not all cold.

JOHN: Or mushy. Our is done very differently.

JACOB: I went to Havasu a couple of years ago, we went to a place almost like Brother John’s they had this mac-and-cheese where they put green chili and bacon or something that was really good. I didn’t expect that combination to be great.

JOHN: Well we have mac-and-cheese bowls, you probably didn’t notice where you can actually mix in other ingredients like pull pork or fried chicken. I like mine with the chef’s chili.

JACOB: So what made you open up the restaurant?

JOHN: Well, I guess, ultimately, I was kind of talked into it by my brother. Me and my brother had a restaurant back in the nineties, it was called DJ’s, and was a pizza place which was pretty successful. We had it for about six years and then after that restaurant closed, I got out of the restaurant business and my brother stayed in the restaurant business. Then he worked with Circuit in Vegas, opened up the Paris, worked with a few of the resorts there. His last job in Vegas, he was the general manager of Elago(*1) which was like a huge restaurant overlooking the pool in Caesar’s Palace. It was a four-hundred person restaurant. So he was managing that and then got recruited to go to New York City to run a restaurant […] in South Central Park.

JACOB: Were you both born here?

JOHN: Yeah, we were both born in Tucson. Both Dave and I, and our parents are native to Arizona. Two generations were native to these parts. So Dave stayed in the restaurant business and then opened a restaurant in Massachusetts and was doing consulting work in New York City and said “Hey, we gotta do a concept in Tucson.”

JACOB: Yeah, it’s your hometown, you got to do something here.

JOHN: Yep, so that’s how all that came to be.

JACOB: Nice. Have you always wanted to open a restaurant?

JOHN: My first job when I was fifteen was at a restaurant. I got a job at round table pizza. I was fifteen and I lied, said I was sixteen. And by the time I was sixteen like two months later―

JACOB: They found out and it didn’t matter?

JOHN: No, no. They never asked. They gave me the keys and I became nighttime manager when I was sixteen years old, managing a bunch of other sixteen year olds, seventeens and nineteen year olds. All through college I worked in the pizza business, ran restaurants.

JACOB: So you are very familiar with the line of work.

JOHN: Yeah. This is something I’ve been doing for a long time.

JACOB: And do you plan on expanding the restaurant, opening other ones?

JOHN: Yes, we are working on a concept right now with another business partner for “Abuela’s Cocina Mexicana” which is going to be a mexican restaurant that will hopefully be opening up in the next few weeks. Eventually, once we get our footing and cash flow going the way we want to, we definitely will want to do a couple more other Brother John’s up in Phoenix probably. Expand the market a little bit.

JACOB: And do you have any other businesses in Tucson?

JOHN: Vanessa and I have our LLC, our investment properties. I have a condo and another house we rent out. I’m still on a few board; some on the mariachi conference, board of directors Tucson international mariachi conference, and then I am also president of the housing corporation board for a fraternity on [the U of A] campus, too. So I don’t necessarily own too many businesses but I am still a full-time enterprise technology manager for Ascension Health. Ascension used to own Carondelet here in Tucson. We’re the largest non-for-profit healthcare provider in the United States [and] the tenth largest hospital network. One out of every twenty-five babies born in the U.S. is born in an Ascension hospital.

JACOB: One out of five?
JOHN: One out of twenty-five.
JACOB: So what advice would you give someone looking to start a business?
JOHN: Well, the one thing I always tell people if they want to start a business is start a business in what you know, not what you think you know. The main reason why restaurants are probably one in seven make it pass two years is that the one in seven are actually run by restaurant tourists as opposed to a retired attorney or doctor or someone who likes to cook. I always tell people if you want to open a restaurant, go work in one, manage one, understand how to operate and understand what it takes before you invest your money.

JACOB: So learn everything, then pursue.

JOHN: Yeah, exactly. You wouldn’t become a lawyer without going to law school, right? And you wouldn’t be a doctor without go to medical school. So why would you be a restaurant tour without studying restaurants.

JACOB: Exactly.

JOHN: It’s easy to open a restaurant because anybody could, if you have money, someone will sell you something. So if you’re going to start your own business, do what you know and what you’re an expert at. Or you can differentiate yourself from [the competition]. If you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur, you got to be able to sell something or do something that nobody, you do better or different than anybody else, right? So that’s the advice I give for whatever business you choose to open. Be different and better.


JACOB: And one last question, are you a vegetarian?

JOHN: Of course not. But we do have a vegetarian dishes at Brother John’s because people are more health conscious and everyone has a vegetarian friend. And so we actually have a dish that’s actually vegan. It’s the cauliflower steak. We cut a piece of cauliflower thick like a steak and saute it in olive oil, throw zucchini and onions and bell peppers and tomatoes and a vinaigrette sauce. There no animal product whatsoever. No milk, no dairy, no animal product.

JACOB: Well it sounds good.

JOHN: Yeah, we sell a lot of it. It’s a nice dish to compliment your carnivores versus your vegetarians so they can come eat at Brother John’s, too.

JACOB: Well, thank you John for doing this interview with us―

JOHN: No problem.

JACOB: ― [It means a lot] and I hope to hear more from you in the future.

(*1) It is likely that John was referring to Lago, a restaurant at the Bellagio right in front of the Bellagio Fountains


Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ

1801 N. Stone Ave., Tucson, Arizona 85705


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Interview: John Aldecoa, the Brother in Brother John’s