“I have to embrace every last crumb, that’s how good it is,” said Loy Norrix senior TJ Powell about TnT, A Touch of Soul, a local barbecue place in Kalamazoo located at 112 East Cork Street.
TnT was started by Katisha and Terrance Burton, who met at a cooking class at the Van Buren Technology Center in Lawrence, Michigan. During the school year of 1993-94 they started dating. Terrance was a senior and Katisha was a junior in high school.
For her 31st birthday, Terrance threw Katisha, otherwise known as Ms. Tish, a party at her sister’s apartment complex. Having moved from Covert, Michigan, to Kalamazoo in 2006, they didn’t really know too many people at the time, so Terrance invited the entire apartment complex to the party.
They cooked a variety of different kinds of barbecue, which turned out to be a big hit. The residents of the apartment complex started coming up to them and telling them that they were crazy to not sell their barbecue hits. This idea took root, and eventually they opened the restaurant in October of 2006.
Even when the restaurant opened, Ms. Tish faced challenges getting it going.
“Five years ago I was homeless selling the barbecue out of my car,” said Ms. Tish, “and people in the Hilltop apartments started telling the owner [of the apartment complex], who sold barbecue but it wasn’t good, that we should get together and unite like a transformer.”
After those 3 united, they were truly unstoppable and have made excellent barbecue.
Ms. Tish and Terrance have made barbecue since the restaurant started, and it’s always been a family business.
“My sister, daughter, husband and niece work here,” said Ms. Tish. “I’m a mother, wife and business owner with no experience. We’re just living and loving each other. One family.”
Ms. Tish’s family is from Brownsville, Tennessee, so the food is a Memphis style barbecue. Memphis style barbecue means that the meat is slow roasted, and can be described as either “dry” or “wet,” describing whether there is a rub, for dry, or a sauce, for wet, on it.
“It taste so good, make you want to smack your mama,” said TJ Powell.
The menu includes pulled pork sandwiches, racks of ribs, fried chicken and nacho fries, along with many other barbecue combinations.
Ms. Tish said that there was a really important lesson that she took away from her journey starting the restaurant: “It’s important to never give up, no matter the obstacles in your life.”
Ms. Tish and Terrance are currently getting ready to open a new sit-down restaurant. Her plan is to open it on December 1, 2017, on Riverview Drive, although she doesn’t know the exact address. The theme of the restaurant is still barbecue, but Ms. Tish wants to do a lot with potatoes and putting things such as crab legs or shrimp on top of the potatoes.