Donna's Real Pit Barbeque

Article and Photos by Linda Charlton

Revamped, re-branded and remodeled, the old Brodus Bar-B-Que in Groveland has come back to life; only now it’s Donna’s Real Pit Barbeque. The location is the same place it has always been, on the south side of State Road 50, at 103 Taylor Avenue, just a couple of blocks east of the SR 33 – SR 50 intersection.

Restaurant owner Donna Brodus Forrest, hard at work cooking.

Donna Brodus Forrest is the oldest daughter of Cornelius and Lucille Brodus, who opened their barbeque restaurant in the 1970s. Donna grew up in the business. She learned barbeque, she learned about running a business, she learned hard work. She knew she wanted to carry on the family legacy. She knew she wanted to run her own barbeque restaurant. Now she is doing both. The nod to that legacy (beyond the food and the location) is at the bottom of her store sign: “Brodus approved,” with a check mark.

Donna has been an educator for years — teacher, guidance counselor, principal, assistant principal, girls basketball coach — but she also played an integral role in running her parents’ business. In 2012, with her father in failing health, she closed the restaurant. Cornelius Brodus died in 2014. Lucille Brodus passed away five years later. Donna started remodeling the restaurant in 2020. The new restaurant passed its initial food license inspection June 21 of this year, and opened to the public on July 2. 

Restaurant owner Donna Brodus Forrest, hard at work cooking.

Donna says “I always wanted to open in phases,” and now she’s doing just that. The first phase was takeout only. She’s in the second phase now, with tables and umbrellas on the patio. The next phase will be the indoor seating. She has the room  and she has the state license. The menu is similar to the original Brodus menu, but with one notable change. Brodus’ signature red sauce (now Donna’s Real Pit Barbeque sauce) is now available in spicy as well as the original sweet version.

A customer takes in the menu, Saturday at the restaurant.

As for customers, she has new customers, she has old customers from the neighborhood, and she has former customers who are just now realizing that Brodus is back.

Bobby Lewis was a first time customer on Saturday.  “We’re excited,” he said. “It’s our first time here. We see people come here all the time. Since it opened we keep saying ‘we’re going to do it. Today is the day.”

Margie Brenneman is an old customer from Brooksville. On Saturday she and her sisters were returning from a cruise and stopped by, delighted to learn that the restaurant was still in the family.

“My family would drive in from Brooksville just to get her father’s barbeque,” Brenneman said. “The first time we stopped here, he gave us a bottle of his barbeque sauce, and that’s how we got hooked.”

On work days at the old black cemetery in Groveland, lunch has been purchased from a variety of local restaurants. This past Friday the food came from Donna’s Real Pit Barbeque. Here fire chief Kevin Carroll digs into some ribs.

Ten minutes later, as she and her sisters chowed down at one of the tables, she declared “It’s delicious. Like we remember. ”

It’s a comment Donna says she hears a lot. “The people in the community, they remember,” she says.

Outside of her family and her restaurant, Donna has one other love in life —basketball. She’s coached basketball at multiple levels. She attended Clemson on a full basketball scholarship. She is currently the girls’ basketball coach at Lake Minneola High.

With true entrepreneurial spirit, she says “I’m going to have a training center for girls basketball. MADILT. Making a Difference In Lives Today. It’s coming.

Hours are 11 am to 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 11 am -7  pm on Sundays. There’s no online ordering at this point, but phone orders are welcomed at (352) 600-4110.

Previous articleHighlights of November’s South Lake Chamber Of Commerce Breakfast
Next articleBusiness Spotlight Shines On Nothing Bundt Cakes