Hometown staple Cotten’s Bar-B-Que closing after 37 years

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of Jacksonville’s most beloved BBQ joints, Cotten’s Bar-B-Que, is shutting its doors Tuesday after 37 years in business.

Cotten’s Bar-B-Que has been a hometown staple in Jacksonville since 1987. It’s most popular for its mouthwatering ribs and southern hospitality.

“Well, it feels good to go out with the love and affection that has come to us since we’ve announced it, you know,” Yvonne Cotten, co-owner of the restaurant, said.

Fred Cotten and his wife, Yvonne, opened Cotten’s Bar-B-Que 37 years ago. The restaurant withstood two recessions and a pandemic.

The business idea was passed down from Fred Cotten’s father, who was the original owner of Fred Cotten’s BBQ on North Main Street in 1947.

“Well, you see that guy over there and that pit?” Fred Cotten asked. “That’s cooked fresh every day we don’t use ovens we cook in the morning that’s why if you come late at night sometimes, I’m sorry we’re out.”

The guy he is referring to is Mike Miller, who has been the restaurant cook since 1998.

“It’s bittersweet for us because we’re going to miss a lot of the customers, a lot of nice people I’ve met over the years. I’m going to miss them,” Miller said.

Customers are not taking the closing easy.

“I hate to see them go,” long-time customer Cynthia Mann said.

“I heard they were closing so I wanted to come here and hear it for myself,” long-time customer Rick Lucas said. “It’s unbelievable it’s an institution.”

People tell News4JAX that they’ll miss the service, the comradery, the barbecue sauce — but most of all — the food.

“This is the best food as far as ribs go in Jacksonville,” Mann said.

“It’s going to be very hard to find someplace that can kind of compete with his,” customer Betty Mckim claimed.

About the Author:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.