All Janet Leach wanted to do was make, bottle and sell her own barbecue sauce. Opening a restaurant wasn’t supposed to be part of the deal.
But there she was on December 2, cutting the ribbon to officially open her new eatery, Woah Nellies BBQ & More, at 361 Tyngsboro Road in Dracut.
What Janet didn’t realize last year when she left her job with Sodexo, a food-services and facilities management company, was that making and selling your own BBQ sauce is a heavily regulated process in Massachusetts that includes having to make and store it in a commercial kitchen.
So she set out in search of a commercial kitchen, a venture that led her to the spot on Tyngsboro Road that once housed Geno’s Diner, right across the road from Lake Mascuppic.
“I was gonna quit when I turned 60 anyway -- you know, stop working for the man – and make and sell my own sauce retail,” says Janet, 61. “But I found out you have to have a commercial kitchen. So I started looking around for a space, and the price was right here.”
Then she figured if she’s going to rent the space, she might as well open a restaurant, too, so people can taste her BBQ sauce before they buy it.
She started making her own BBQ sauce, Pull My Pork, after serving Sodexo’s for three decades.
“It wasn’t bad, but I thought I could make a better one,” she says.
Pull My Pork comes in three flavors – original, razapeno (a mix of raspberry and jalapeno), and orange habanero.
With the lake right across the street, Janet is planning to sell “boat boxes” – lunch for those going out in their boats and also for families using the nearby public beach in good weather.
Janet took over the Tyngsboro Road spot in August 2020 and ran into some structural issues that had to be addressed before she could get all of the required licenses. Sixteen months later, she’s finally ready to go.
She has received lots of help from family and friends along the way, most notably from her wife, Val.
“We had to have the plumbing and electrical fixed, but we did everything else ourselves,” Janet says. “I’ve put a lot of work into this just so I can make my own barbecue sauce in a commercial kitchen and sell it retail. It’s been a long time coming.”
The name Woah Nellies came from the old saying that Janet didn’t even know she said a lot.
According to Janet, “We were trying to come up with a name, and my niece said, ‘How about Woah Nellies?’ I said, ‘Why Woah Nellies?’ And she said, ‘Because you’re always saying it.’ And I said, ‘I am?’ I didn’t even know I said it a lot.”
She’ll be saying it a lot more now that the restaurant is open for business.
If it’s barbecue, mac ‘n’ cheese and cornbread you’re craving, head to Woah Nellies BBQ & More. It’s open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 to 8, and Sunday, 11:30 to 6.