New Series ‘Restaurant Recovery’ Visits Dallas’ Smokey John’s

The second episode of the new series Restaurant Recovery on discovery+ features Dallas’ own Smokey John’s.

In Restaurant Recovery, restaurateur and philanthropist Todd Graves helps restaurant owners recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. As founder and CEO of the popular restaurant chain Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Graves and his team provide creative ideas, hands-on renovations, and financial support to struggling eateries. Investing more than $100,000 per restaurant and $1 million overall, Graves seeks to help bring the restaurants back to their former glory. Double episodes are available each week.

Along the way, Todd invites some high-profile friends to lend a hand, including multi-hyphenates Nelly and Snoop Dogg, actor Rob Schneider, football’s Archie Manning, Roquan Smith and Michael Thomas, the Rebirth Brass Band, Grammy-Award winning group La Mafia, and basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal.

“The pandemic has been devastating to the restaurant industry as a whole, but thankfully, due to our drive-thrus at Raising Cane’s, we were fortunate to maintain our business,” said Graves in a statement. “As a result, it became so important to me to pay it forward to those in need by offering financial and professional support. These great family-owned restaurants are important not only to their employees, but also the community and owners who sacrificed so much trying to keep the doors open. Our hope is that by providing a platform to highlight and amplify their awareness, these restaurants will be able to bounce back stronger than before.”

The second episode visits Dallas’ Smokey John’s, which is owned and operated by two brothers carrying on their father’s legacy, including keeping all of their 22 employees afloat.

Started by “Smokey” John Reaves, the restaurant grew into a beloved African American community gathering spot where BB King played for ribs and Dallas Cowboys players frequented. Now the two brothers, Brent and Juan Reaves, are tasked with running the restaurant their father built from the ground up because of his love for backyard barbecue.

In addition to COVID-induced issues, the restaurant encountered problems when the Texas State Fair – which provides over 30% of their annual revenue – was canceled. 

Other episodes include Todd returning to his hometown of Baton Rouge with basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal to help Poor Boy Lloyd’s, a legendary seafood spot in Louisiana; and a 107-year-old candy shop and diner in St. Louis struggling to keep the lights on, as Todd recruits rapper Nelly to help boost sales. Other markets featured in the series are Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas and New Orleans. 

 “Todd Graves is one of the most successful restaurateurs in the country,” said Food Network president Courtney White. “Having started his business as a young entrepreneur from the ground up, Todd knows about the challenges that exist in making a restaurant work, which is why he is the perfect person to help save these family-owned establishments.”

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