In 1988, while stationed in Berlin, Greg and Marilyn Davis started inviting young soldiers and their families into their home. Along with kinship and occasional counsel, the couple always provided their guests a good home-cooked meal. Their fascination with fusing charitable work and comforting food has lived on, even since Greg's ended his 26-year Army career.
At the urging of friends and family, the Alabama natives opened Glad's Original Bar-B-Q eight years ago on Jet Wing Drive, then opened a second location on Fort Carson in 2006. In January 2008, they relocated the first business to near Academy and Astrozon boulevards. That's where the restaurant celebrated its anniversary last month with a benefit dinner to support military wives, complete with a political dignitary: Gary, Ind., Mayor Rudolph "Rudy" Clay, Greg's uncle.
Along with the immaculate dining area, Glad's new location has an attached 100-seat banquet hall called the "Gathering Place." There, the couple hopes large groups (parties, family reunions) will savor Glad's recipes that have been handed down for generations.
I decided to bring take-out to four generations of my family to sample Glad's fares. The menu is vast and alternates depending on the day and mood of the chef, similar to what happens in my house. Dinners range from $5.99 to $14.99 for a combo that includes two sides; sandwiches are under $7, with "family packs" topping out at $26.
When she caught a whiff of the barbecued ribs, my soon-to-be-90-year-old great-grandma exclaimed, "Oh, soul food!" The meat of those large spare ribs, covered in a thick, zesty spice rub and ruby-colored sauce, just fell off the bone. Mr. Glad (as Greg now likes to be called) was right: "You can leave your teeth at home, with these ribs."
The brisket also got the crowd's nod. Thin-sliced, lean and displaying that tell-tale smoke ring, it was simply delicious.
Glad's sides won acclaim and debate. The cabbage still had a little bite, the collard greens were spot-on, and we all loved the extra cheesy mac 'n cheese. Disagreement came with the black-eyed peas: Glad's adds a hint of sugar, something I plan on adopting in my own kitchen. But some didn't take to it, preferring to go more traditional.
Those were the same folks who joyously reached for the one thing I have never been able to get my head or mouth around: pig's feet. Whether the "delicacy" is pickled or boiled, my teeth chatter at the thought of pulling pieces of jiggly, wiggly flesh from the knuckles. Glad's simmers theirs in a mildly spicy broth, and after sampling the tiniest piece, which I just couldn't find love for, I was chastised for "messin' over good food."
I earned my way back into good standing when I brought out the whole sweet potato pie ($8.75). While I prefer a little more salt to my crust, the otherwise delightful and creamy pie reminded me of my grandfather's.
A later visit with my mom had her agreeing with the in-laws. The crunchy catfish delighted with a hit of Louisiana hot sauce, and the baked chicken was adeptly seasoned and moist. Although my peach cobbler ($2.65) had no crust, which disappointed, the extra-sweet pecan pie ($2.55) made up for it.
Fueled by their mission to serve, the Davises have done what they set out to do more than 20 years ago: to bring comfort through home cooking.