By Mike Kinney
The Richmond community ought to consider funding 24/7 security protection for Charlie Evans. Why? Because he’s the only person on the planet who fully knows the secret ingredients behind his popular shop, CJ’s Barbecue & Fish at 2401 Macdonald Ave.
The Richmond native told the Standard that his mother Flora, who turns 102 years old this year, supplied him with secret ingredients to prepare his distinctive sauces and seasoning. Evans incorporated what he’s learned in cooking and is now the only one who knows what it takes to create CJ’s signature dishes.
“Some of it is family recipe, some of it is my recipe, and it takes long, dedicated days to make precision out of this,” Evans told us. “And no short cuts.”
Evans says each rack of ribs is cleaned, prepped, then smoked for three hours. They’re then brought into the restaurant for cooling and serving. The fish is fried “onsite and on time, right there in front of you,” Evans said. He makes everything down to the potatoes, macaroni salad, beans and sauces.
“I was born and raised here, everybody knows the family,” Evans said. “I like to feed them and I like to see them happy.”
Evans has made customers happy both in Richmond and beyond for the last 21 years at CJ’s. Notable individuals such as U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, Tower of Power lead singer Lenny Williams, R&B singer Jessie James, Congressmember Mark DeSaulnier, Blues Singer Bobby Rush, and many former professional athletes have stopped in for delicious eats.
In 2011, CJ’s was named California’s ‘Restaurant of the Year’ by State Sen. Nancy Skinner in 2011. Evans’ shop continues to cater numerous events in Richmond and throughout the Bay Area, including A Taste of Richmond, Cinco de Mayo, Juneteenth, the Black Cowboys in downtown Oakland and Richmond National Night Out. Twice monthly, CJ’s provides catering services to the Chevron Richmond Refinery. It also catered former Congressmember George Miller’s retirement party.
“I really enjoy and like the flavor of the BBQ here,” said Richmond native Darryl Fontenot “It’s cooked to perfection. Everybody I know comes to CJ’s.”
CJ’s Barbecue & Fish is opened daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.