by Christy Kyser
Byron’s Smokehouse in Auburn changed ownership in 2023 after 34 years in the Gulledge family, a quiet sale that wasn’t well-known until it was well done. Possibly the best strategy as the Auburn Faithful would have held a collective breath, anxious and vocal with ideas and opinions as to the why, when, where and how of it all.
Instead, Glen and Stephanie Gulledge met with Kevin Tudhope of Auburn and struck a deal. “I’m a regular customer of Byron’s. I’ve been going there for as a long as I can remember. After talking with Glen, I felt like Byron’s would be a natural fit with our other business interests,” says Tudhope. “We have no intention to change the hometown feel of Byron’s. Glen has built up the restaurant through the years as a staple in the Auburn community. We want to keep it that way.”
Surrounded by family including his father Byron and new-bride Stephanie, Glen opened Byron’s in September 1989. “We were married in April 1989 and opened Byron’s that same year. The restaurant life is all we have ever known,” says Stephanie.
Glen and his father perfected the meat-smoking process while establishing and maintaining a passion for customers. “We’ve grown to love our regulars like family. Glen has a special bond with the kids and would show them the meat pit. The same couples have come in for years,” says Stephanie, adding that she keeps in touch with many by phone.
Like all businesses, COVID hit the restaurant industry hard. Post-Covid, it was difficult to find employees, leaving Stephanie, Glen and son Shelby to wear many hats for many hours. While most of their friends were retiring, the Gulledges were stocking supplies, ringing up orders and refilling drinks. When approached by Tudhope, the couple felt like it was time to move on.
Tudhope is no stranger to the restaurant business. He and wife Julie own Baumhower’s Victory Grille in Auburn as well as several other businesses, including two UPS stores and a third coming to downtown Auburn. Tudhope also owns Equity Investment Mortgage Company. “We gained a lot of experience through the years at Baumhowers. The restaurant industry is a grind, but we’ve got an excellent team in all our businesses, especially at Byron’s and Baumhowers,” says Tudhope.
“You don’t change what’s not broken, and Byron’s menu is not broken. We don’t have plans to change the menu. Folks like me who have been coming to Byron’s for decades will continue to get the same delicious food and service the Gulledges have provided,” says Tudhope. “I’m happy for Glen and Stephanie, and I hope they can transition into retirement with peace of mind knowing Byron’s is in good hands.”
While Glen may have a hard time adjusting, his two grandbabies will keep him occupied. Maybe even over a smoked linked sausage biscuit and gravy in a back-corner booth at Byron’s.
For updated hours and menu, visit Byron’s Smokehouse on Facebook or call 334.887.9981.