501 Life Magazine | At The Big House Burger Joint: Quality with conviction
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At The Big House Burger Joint: Quality with conviction

Three years ago, a few concerned and passionate individuals got together to start a Christ-centered ministry for parolees. They wanted to help men and women with law violations with re-entry into society as useful, contributing, positive members, all the while improving their faith, sense of self-worth and decision-making skills. Those five individuals were Ray and Teresa Kendall, Mike and Paula Willbanks and Shane Willbanks.

“Sometimes the most important step in rehabilitation is knowing that someone believes in you, and believes you are worth a second chance,” said Shane. This is part of the mission of “Life After Prison Ministries” as well as “Second Chance Enterprises.”

My first encounter with The Big House Burger Joint came through Mike Willbanks. I was judging a chili contest for Renewal Ranch and a gentleman passed the judges table with a T-shirt that read “Quality with Conviction.” It captured my interest and I began to research the history. It was explained to me that the mission of The Big House Burger Joint is twofold: to give those with law violations who have been restored in God and lifestyle a second chance, and to put some “dang good food on the table!” The Big House Burger Joint has succeeded in both accounts.

There are nine felons employed at the restaurant — all taking enormous pride in their work!

“Nothing is wasted,” said Shane, manager of this venture. All nine employees also spend time with a mentor, making accountability a requirement, but the love for their jobs goes a long way with each employee as well.

The restaurant opened Sept. 8, using Philippians 3:12-15 with the theme of “Going For the Gold.” In the short time of existence, the ministry has made national radio and garnered amazing support for its efforts in rehabilitation.

Each day seems to present the five owners with miracle after miracle of God’s provision and “after care” for the lives they touch. In fact, there was a simple list of needs from the employees that was kept among themselves and as opportunities came to help those in need, the “supplied need” was scratched off the list! The needs ranged from paying the rent and fines to assisting with housing.

While I was there enjoying one of their burgers called “The Major,” the establishment was helping a female employee move into a new FEMA-provided mobile home. There is even the dream for the future of opening other locations in other states for this incredible ministry.

Of course, Tuesday — sale day at the sale barn — is a huge day, but the “burger joint” is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is closed only on Sunday and at 4 p.m. on Monday.

Burgers, fries, pulled pork, salads and an incredible breakfast menu are offered daily.

For more information, visit www.bighouseburgerjoint.com or call 501.548.0225 or 501.548.0246. The Big House Burger Joint is located at 1100 Amity Road — in the sale barn!

For fat free, all natural, no cholesterol, low sodium, gluten free, no MSG hamburgers — this is the joint!