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Couple's love helps build Trust Me Barbecue into a success

The smell of barbeque fills the air.

The smoke from the grill pours into the restaurant every time the door opens. The sound of reggae music is vaguely heard over the roar of people waiting to be served and placing their orders. The lunch rush at this homey barbecue restaurant on U.S. 301 proves busy, but proud co-owner Lenae Trusty takes this welcomed break in her day to explain how she got to where she is today.

Back in 1999, Lenae met Roger Trusty in Clearwater. The native of Oracabessa, Jamaica, stole her heart one afternoon while serving her from his unnamed barbecue trailer. As their love grew, so did their trust in each other. They were better together than apart and that love shows in the amount of passion they both have for their business.

"Yah mon, it's all blessings," Roger says. "From the day we met, two beautiful kids, a beautiful wife and living the American dream. It's all Jah blessings. Jah bless America."

The Trustys say the passion and the blessings took them on a fun, food-filled journey that eventually landed them on a Riverview roadside in 2004 with big hopes and a new name: Trust Me.

"Even though we were still on the side of the road we figured giving ourselves a name was due," Lenae Trusty said.

Lenae goes on to explain the progression of their business with a delighted twinkle in her eye. While they quickly moved from being on the side of the road to a spot at a BP gas station on U.S. 301, they knew this wasn't going to be the final resting place.

Towards the end of 2013, Lenae started to scout out stand-alone locations but they didn't have to travel far, finding a location across from the gas station, at 8811 U.S. 301.

They signed a lease in May of 2014.

Once the lease was signed Lenae and her friends slowly started doing things to the new place. This went on for about a year before they had the money to hire a contractor for major renovations. The renovations went from March 2015 to the last week of July. From there it was just moving over and cleaning up before the grand opening in August.

"Business has increased by 215 percent in the first month since we've been open," Lenae exclaims as she examines the ever growing line of people in her store.

They can't keep up with their best seller — fall off the bone delicious ribs — or the demand for their homemade barbecue sauce. Roger's jerk chicken also ranks as a favorite.

To come up with new ideas for sides and main dishes, they sought the advice of friends and family on Facebook.

"Trial and error was our main focus until we asked our customers on Facebook what they would like to see."

Where their short-term goals are to grow bigger and better, hire employees and get a beer and wine license, their long-term goals are rather lofty.

"We would really love to be able to go back to Roger's roots and open restaurants in all the cruise ports in Jamaica," Lenae said. "We have already talked to family in the area."

Contact Lisa Westmiller at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

Couple's love helps build Trust Me Barbecue into a success 11/05/15 [Last modified: Thursday, November 5, 2015 7:13am]
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