NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – A small barbecue joint in Norman near Lake Thunderbird has a story that goes beyond just smoking meat.

After losing their beloved family member about 4 months ago, the co-owners of Bibbs Smokehouse and Catering Co. said it’s been hard, but they’re are pushing on in his memory.

Everyday they’re open, smoke billows out of the pit they call “Bertha” around 7 a.m. at Bibbs Smokehouse and Catering Co.

Owner Chuck Bibbs and co-owner/pit boss Ronshene Smith are the men working hard inside.

The barbecue masters of over 2 decades said business has been booming just a few months in.

“We didn’t know that the relationship between us and the community out here was going to be such a wonderful blessing for everyone,” Bibbs said.

However, they said it’s what’s inside the restaurant that drives them. It’s a picture of Bibbs’ late son and Smith’s nephew, Landon.

Memorial for Landon Bibbs on Bibbs Smokehouse and Catering wall

“The reason we put him up there is we come in, we salute him every day,” Bibbs said. “We salute him when we leave.”

“He was just a good solid dude and he meant the world to me and I miss him,” Smith said.

In April, Landon was shot and killed after a fight in a Stillwater barbershop. He was 25 years old.

Landon was helping build the BBQ business before his death by painting, among other things.

“Whatever we needed him to do,” Bibbs said.

Landon was also going to be a part of it all long term.

“I was proud as a father to get to a point in life to where I could actually give my son a career with us,” Bibbs said. “When we lost him, we lost a lot. We lost the motivation. We lost a lot of time in space.”

But Bibbs and Smith kept pushing on. The optimism for the business, family atmosphere and spirited cooking is quite a contrast to the tragedy that haunts the family.

Bibbs and Smith said Landon’s memory is what drives them to keep it all going.

“He was the biggest inspiration that we had and the biggest person I had in my life,” Bibbs said. “I didn’t know that one day my son would be the one that gives me the strength to keep going.”

“He pushes me. It pushes me to be better,” Smith said. “I got to get better, and I get better for him. I get better for my family.”

Smith and Bibbs said they have more plans for their business as they continue to build it. They want to put a patio out back with TV’s and areas for activities.

Right now, he said they’re focused on serving everything from chicken fried steak to everyone’s barbecue favorites like brisket and smoked sausage.