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Long Beach’s Bigmista’s Barbecue Calls It Quits in Wild Blog Post

The family is moving east after July 1, and taking no prisoners along the way

The line at Bigmista’s in Long Beach
Yelp/Scott S.
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

After years of serving ribs, pulled pork, brisket and more at farmers markets, on television, and at barbecue competitions nationwide, Neil “Bigmista” Strawder is closing the door on his standalone Long Beach restaurant.

The namesake Bigmista’s Barbecue & Sammich Shop is still up and running at the moment, but has a drop-dead date of July 1. That’s the last day Neil and his wife and co-owner Phyllis Strawder will be behind the counter serving customers. After that, they’re moving east for parts unknown. The quick decision has come as a surprise to longtime fans of the restaurant, but Phyllis has never been one to shy away from controversy. In a blog post outlining the closure, she offers a simple reason for moving on: “Because we’re grown and we can.”

What’s more, Phyllis Strawder says that she’s cutting her lease short with her landlord, and had even threatened to walk away from the property on the spot, leaving unpaid bills behind. The blog post reads:

We tried to get out of our lease, but the landlord said no. Then we decided to let the [sic] evict us to break the lease but found out we’re still on the hook for the end of the lease. We told them fine we’re leaving, but they decided they wanted us out in 5 days and decided to involve lawyers to evict us. Oh well, then no need for me to rush paying. I’ll hold it til we go to court. Actually, the old me would do that, but I’m gonna pay and be done so we can move on.

As local blog Longbeachize points out, the Strawders also closed their sister restaurant earlier this year, citing tough parking and just enough cash flow to keep them in business, but nothing more. Now their dedicated barbecue home is also going away, though there are still a few weeks left to enjoy the food. The final day of service for Bigmista’s in Long Beach is July 1.

Bigmista’s Barbecue & Sammich Shop
3444 N. Los Coyotes Diagonal
Long Beach, CA