Gatlin’s settles into new home with help from Allegiance Bank initiative
One of the main owners of Gatlin’s Barbecue said officials with Allegiance Bank are doing one thing that others weren’t keen on doing – taking a chance with the business and its future in the community.
Allegiance Bank assisted the iconic barbecue establishment with its loan process as the group procured its current location on Ella Boulevard, providing help through its Small Business Association Department’s existing Veteran’s Pledge Program. SBA Department manager Gary Henderson said the bank had taken part in the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders Veteran’s Pledge as a way of better supporting SBA lending to veterans and providing discounts with third party vendors for services related to loans.
“We stepped it up a little more and got our bank to agree to pay the packaging fee for the veterans,” Henderson said, which can be in upwards of about $2,000. “We also set aside funds to help veterans that are taking any classes on financial management and similar programs.”
The outreach from Henderson and executive bank office president Scott Lester is particularly important for Henry Gatlin, 66, who served in the Navy for 25 months.
“That was back when we still had the draft and I was going to take my chances with the draft,” Gatlin said. “I was going to get drafted so I went to the Navy instead. I went to the military and my brother went on to school and when I got out of the Navy I went back to school.”
Gatlin served in communications aboard the USS Guam, an amphibious landing craft, out of Norfolk, VA. He recalls he enjoyed his time in the military, and said following up with a barbecue business was something that was more on the sideline for him. After getting laid off from an electric company in 1974, he was offered an opportunity to go to Southwestern Bell where he was promised a certain type of schooling.
“When that didn’t pan out, I walked away from it,” Gatlin said. He later worked from 1974 until his retirement at Fisk Telephone in 2010. While barbecue had been a thing his family had done around his home, it was his son Gregory who said he wanted to start his own business and later brought his father on as a partner.
Gatlin said his son Gregory had sold barbecue from a trailer for a few years before opening up their location on West 19th Street, which was later shuttered in favor of its current home on Ella Boulevard due to its rapid success. The store went from 700 square feet to around 4,500 square feet.
Moving forward, Gatlin said he wasn’t driven by a bottom line.
“When we had started out on this venture, we talked with a lot of different banks,” Gatlin said. “Personally, I was never really interested in partners or people taking portions of the company because when we started this thing we started it with a certain thing in mind. We built our business on treating people like we wanted to be treated.”
After being steered towards Allegiance, along with Lester and Henderson, Gatlin said the organization helped them through the veterans program with the Small Business Association.
“It was just one more piece to the puzzle,” Gatlin said. “We always believed we would [move into a new location] and I think Allegiance did what a lot of other guys weren’t willing to do. They took a chance, and they’re going to be the beneficiary for taking the chance.”
Henderson presented a check for about $2,000 to cover the packaging fee for an SBA loan to Mary, Gregory and Henry Gatlin last week and Henderson thanked Henry Gatlin for his service and said he himself had others who had served in the Navy in his family.
“[Allegiance Bank] was so engaging and so personal with us,” Mary Gatlin said. “It was an experience you don’t have with a lot of banking institutions.”
“Obviously, the Gatlin family has grown their BBQ restaurant into one of the best in Houston.,” Lester said. “Allegiance Bank is proud to partner with them and wish them great success.”
Margaret Vandever, senior vice president and commercial loan officer, shared similar feelings.
“It has been our privilege and pleasure to work with Gatlin’s BBQ and assist this wonderful family in relocating their business to a facility that will meet the needs of their growing business,” Vandever said. ” To be the bank of choice for the BEST BBQ restaurant in Houston, if not Texas is something we at Allegiance are very proud of. The Gatlin’s, like Allegiance, pride themselves on being a partner in the community and providing extraordinary service and value to its customers.”