IN TH FIRST: Dubuque barbecue restaurant reopens in new location this weekend

Location: 1850 Central Ave. 

Hours: 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; and noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays

Phone: 563-500-6378


As Antywone and Francén Sanders worked on their new barbecue restaurant location in Dubuque ahead of its opening, someone popped their head in the door to ask if they were open. Then, someone else did. And another person.

“Every single day that we’re here, five to 10 people ask if we’re open,” Antywone said.

Frannie’s BBQ will reopen on Saturday, June 4, at its new location, 1850 Central Ave., the former home of Downtown Billiards. The eatery, formerly known as Boaz BBQ, offers both sit-down and catering services.

Boaz BBQ originally was opened at 1689 Elm St. in 2020 by Don Edwards.

Antywone said he stumbled across the restaurant one day and told Edwards that he would be interested in becoming a business partner. Edwards later offered to sell the business, and the Sanderses took ownership in November.

When they took over the eatery, Francén said, they created Frannie’s BBQ LLC, after her nickname, but they still operated under the Boaz BBQ.

“It stuck, and it grew,” Antywone said of the Frannie’s BBQ name. “Everyone who came in wanted to talk to Frannie.”

Boaz BBQ closed at the end of March as Antywone and Francén prepared Frannie’s BBQ for opening. But the former name is still displayed in a neon sign hanging in a window.

“With the transition, we opted to fade Boaz out, but we’re not ditching it,” Francén said. “I love Boaz.”

Antywone and Francén felt that relocating to Central Avenue was a good move for their business, especially since the new location is triple the size of the previous one.

“If I got a family of five in there, I couldn’t seat another family of five in that space,” Francén said. “We could seat 25 people comfortably. Here, we can seat 65 if we wanted to. We still wanted it a little more intimate, but we wanted a bigger space.”

Antywone added that the Central Avenue location hopefully will attract more people driving by.

“There’s four times the amount of cars that pass by here every day,” he said. “We’re looking to add to the community here.”

The eatery also features a bar, arcade games and two pool tables.

The menu still will boast soul food favorites, including brisket, ribs, wings and beef tips.

“Everything that comes off the smoker is good,” Antywone said. “I say that if I won’t eat it and love it, I won’t serve it.”

The Sanderses, who lived in Minneapolis before moving to Dubuque, both come from families with a history of cooking good food.

Antywone said he has cooked since he was 9 years old, learning recipes from his grandmother and watching his grandfather at the grill.

“They showed me what to do to make the food I loved: soul food,” he said. “I learned to perfect it all.”

Francén said she remembers her family each making a dish to share during a meal.

“I just enjoy really good food,” she said. “I come from a family that loved really, really good food. For me, I grew up around it. We always found an excuse to come together to eat.”

The couple said they strive to make sure each dish at their restaurant is perfect, and they also work to ensure the food will taste consistent no matter how many times a customer comes back.

“Once it’s good, it’s good,” Antywone said. “I can guarantee that it will be the same, if not better, than the last time.”

The Sanderses also praised Dubuque community members for offering to help them as they got their new location ready for customers.

The couple is excited to see both new and familiar faces.

“A lot of people go to a restaurant to sit down and eat, but we always gauge if they want to chat,” Francén said. “And nine times out of 10, they come to have a conversation.”

Their regular customers have also shown support by being eager to visit Frannie’s BBQ for a meal.

“I’m ready to hear, ‘Oh, my God, that’s so good’ again,” Antywone said.