Butterbean back in the food business

By W. BRIAN HALE, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 2/14/18

World-famous fighter Eric “Butterbean” Esch, who found previous success in the culinary arts, is back with a new venture, Mr. Bean’s BBQ, a family-owned and operated steakhouse and barbecue restaurant on Highway 78.

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Butterbean back in the food business

Posted

World-famous fighter Eric “Butterbean” Esch, who found previous success in the culinary arts, is back with a new venture, Mr. Bean’s BBQ, a family-owned and operated steakhouse and barbecue restaurant on Highway 78.

Butterbean owned and operated a restaurant on Smith Lake Dam Road, which became a hit for its steaks. The lessons and experiences garnered by Butterbean in his first venture has transitioned to Mr. Bean’s, where certified angus beef hamburgers and steaks, together with traditional Alabama barbecue, highlights the menu.

“Our steaks are unique — they have a really good flavor and although they’re more expensive to make than in most restaurants, the quality and work comes out in the taste,” Butterbean said. “We learned a lot with our first restaurant, but at the time I had to close it down as I couldn’t put everything into it that I wanted since I still traveled extensively. This time around, I feel as we will be more successful as there’s time to be more creative and hone products that will satisfy our customers and leave them eager to return often.”

A special touch to the restaurant are the desserts — which include favorites such as red velvet cake and banana pudding — all made by Butterbean himself.

Butterbean was approached by his son Caleb with the idea to open a new restaurant, a prospect that was initially met with resistance. After six months of deliberation, Butterbean finally relented and agreed to help his son open the new business, while also serving as a mentor in the kitchen.

“With Mr. Bean’s, its more about having fun and teaching Caleb about quality cooking. Both of us wanted a good place that would be comfortable, but offered very high-quality food in big portions,” Butterbean said. “We want Mr. Bean’s to be a place the entire family can enjoy for years to come.”

Operating the restaurant as a family is another aspect of the business that Butterbean finds highly appealing. Butterbean’s wife, Libby and other family members join Caleb and his father to help make the business run smoothly and create an atmosphere all feel is welcoming.

“We’re a tight-knit family — and we look at everyone on staff here regardless if they’re by blood, marriage or not related as part of our family. We have some servers that worked in our previous restaurant that are with us here at Mr. Bean’s — they came to work in the new place because they knew they were family just as in our old place,” Butterbean said.

For Caleb, who had worked in the old restaurant and later owned and operated a pawn business, a longing to return to a family-owned restaurant played heavily on his mind.

“When I was in high school, I washed dishes in the old restaurant and later worked on the flat top — I enjoyed it. There was something about the restaurant that I missed,” Caleb said. “I missed working with the family and cooking — it had always been present growing up. It’s what brought me back to it. I’ve always felt that if you can do something you enjoy for a living, you’ll put everything into it. I also enjoy how creative I can be — there’s so many options in the kitchen ranging from steaks to chicken pork.”

Both father and son are extremely pleased with Mr. Bean’s location as well. With its close proximity to I-22 and Highway 69, together with the visibility being on Highway 78 brings, Butterbean and Caleb see plenty of success in the future.

“There’s so much potential in Jasper with the interstate opening up endless possibilities — from jobs to retail and commercial opportunities,” Caleb said. “All of those aspects mean more people moving to the area, all of whom will be looking for a place to get a good meal. Since there’s few options in Jasper to get a good steak, we feel we’re in a prime spot to give the customers what they’re looking for.”

Outside of quality menu, Mr. Bean’s will cater to the sports fans with TVs ready for Saturday and Sunday football games, the World Series and other high-profile events. With ample room for parties or banquets, Mr. Bean’s is capable of hosting special events or meetings.