Randy “Lep” Lepard
Tailgating brought Randy Lepard into the barbecue business. An education major at Mississippi State University, Randy spent a lot of time watching baseball games from the Left Field Lounge, a tailgating area at Dudy Noble Field. Randy’s grilled pork chops and sausage were so good that his friends joked that he should open a restaurant. After spending almost fifteen years as a teacher in Lee County, Randy decided his friends were right. He opened Lep’s BBQ & Ribs in Pontotoc in 1996 in an effort to supplement his income and get back behind the grill. A friend sold him an old smoker and taught him how to use it. Randy set up shop in a little shed on the side of the road and started selling smoked chickens and pork butts on the weekends, while keeping a teacher’s schedule during the week. As his business grew, so did his location—and his menu. Today, Lep’s BBQ & Ribs is a fifty-seat restaurant that serves everything from pulled pork sandwiches to slabs of ribs, barbecue nachos to jambalaya. Randy hasn’t left his tailgating days far behind, though. Every Friday he pulls the cover off of the grill that sits on the front porch of the restaurant and cooks like he did at the Left Field Lounge.