There’s some saucy good food at Phil’s BBQ

Phil’s BBQ holds a soft opening from June 30 to July 2, before their July 3 official opening date. Valley News/Lexington Howe photo

Guests are quick to get their hands on all-things barbecue at Phil’s BBQ, a new restaurant that officially opened its doors July 3 in Temecula.

The soft opening was a three-day run from June 30 to July 2, inviting guests to try out the items on their menu.

“We really just invited people to the soft opening event to just try a little bit of everything to see what they like,” Kevin Sheehan, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Phil’s BBQ, said.

The restaurant, 40830 Winchester Road, in Temecula, had some setbacks, however, with the recent orders by Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday, July 1, for restaurants to halt indoor dining, restricting restaurants to only operate for takeout, delivery or to utilize outdoor patio seating if available.

“We’ve been ready to go at this restaurant since the first time that everything got shut down back in March,” Sheehan said. “We’ve been patiently waiting, diligently working on our safety and sanitation protocols.”

Guests practice social distancing and ordering by phone Wednesday, July 1, helping employees gain practice taking orders over the phone before their opening date. Valley News/Lexington Howe photo

When the order came down, Phil Pace, owner of Phil’s BBQ, said it was disappointing.

“It’s kind of a low blow right now with everything going on. It’s going to cost us some money,” Pace said. “Just hiring all the employees back and then it’s a big disappointment, you gotta let them down, you know. That’s the problem. That’s the part I don’t like.”

“We were at the forefront of helping restaurants in San Diego County get reopened based upon the criteria that we helped develop, and we feel confident that we’re providing a safe and clean and healthy environment for both our employees and our guests,” Sheehan said. “Like Phil said it’s kind of a devastating low blow.”

The soft opening still followed extra safety and sanitation requirements, but it was only open for takeout following the governor’s orders.

“Sometimes they just don’t understand, the governor just thinks you can shut it down, just like that,” Pace said. “It’s not that simple, especially when you have employees involved and trying to keep them happy.”

“You’ve got refrigerators full of inventory, cooked food that has to be served,” Sheehan said.

The Temecula restaurant will be the 10th Phil’s BBQ location.

“San Marcos is still closed since the 13 of March, but we’ve got Rancho Bernardo, Santee, Point Loma, Temecula…” Sheehan said. “Sad to say we’ve been through this before already, three months ago, so we’re not scrambling as much to figure out how we adapt and transition.”

Pace said he first started his cooking career out of high school.

“I started in Ohio. My parents were in the restaurant business close to 50 years, and they served Italian food,” Pace said. “I came up with barbecue, but I learned how to operate a successful business from them. Moved out here when I was 31, been in San Diego since 1998.”

There’s one particular item on the menu he said is the most popular.

“The reason why people come here is for our baby back ribs,” Sheehan said. “The rib and chicken dinner is probably our most popular item; it comes with baby back ribs, chicken, two sides.”

One popular side is Pace’s mother’s coleslaw, made from her own recipe.

“The potato salad is fantastic, and my son is a big fan of the macaroni salad,” Sheehan said.

Phil’s BBQ is open and ready to serve the surrounding communities.

For more information on what they serve, hours and more, visit

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at