Friday, March 14, 2008

The Ron DeFore Collection: Silver Banjo 1

Don DeFore was asked by Walt Disney if he would be interested in opening a restaurant in Frontierland. The spot that Walt had available was the original Casa de Fritos location on "Old" New Orleans Street. Don agreed, and he and his brother Verne (brothers shown here in photo #1) took a Business Management course at UCLA extension to get ready.

One of the most important tasks in making the Silver Banjo a success was to find just the right BBQ sauce. The DeFores felt that the sauce from Love’s BBQ in Encino was just such a sauce. At the beginning of the Silver Banjo, Verne drove frequently from Anaheim to Encino to pick up Love’s sauce...five gallons at a time! Although they were getting consistent sales of their sauce, Love’s refused to cut a deal with the DeFores, so Don went back to UCLA with a sample of the sauce and had it examined. After many tests in the DeFore kitchen, the recipe shown here is what was finally concocted, and from then on, The Silver Banjo Barbecue had its own sauce.

The DeFore brothers remember it as tasting similar to KC Masterpiece. Don was very interested in selling his secret sauce; the bottle was to be in the shape of a banjo, of course! Don actually went so far as to approach Heinz, who asked him to “send the recipe, and we’ll get back to you.” The recipe was trustingly sent, and Heinz’s response was, “Not interested.” Whether the recipe found its way into another Heinz BBQ product is not known. Years later, David DeFore actually worked at a Love’s BBQ restaurant in Brentwood! See more vintage Silver Banjo photos at my website.

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Major Pepperidge said...

I think it's cool that the DeFore's took the time to take a business management class before they opened their restaurant, it shows a real "hands on" approach.

Love's BBQ in Encino, oh my gosh! My grandparents lived in Encino, an we went to Love's a few times. I wasn't crazy about it, maybe because I was a kid and didn't appreciate BBQ at the time. That sauce recipe sounds pretty good though!

Progressland said...

At Bob Gurr's window ceremony last week, Marty Sklar said John Hench took a class on restaurants at UCLA before redesigning the Plaza Inn in 1965. I can't remember why he mentioned that at the ceremony, though!

Earline Taylor said...

I wonder if Don Defore's Barbecue Sauce was ever Commercially Copied! I wonder did he think that who he was would make a difference to someone who wanted to steal it?! That doesn't matter to a thief? And all the thief would have had to do was alter the recipe alittle, making it impossible to prove that they were using Don's Recipe. I've taken a Low Sodium Barbecue Recipe that I found and altered it. If I choose to Market My Recipe, would the person who submitted the Low Sodium Barbecue Recipe know that it was altered from their's? I don't know how that's possible since most BARBECUE SAUCES have the same Basic Ingredients. I wonder how come Don did not try to Market it on his own? Being in Show Business, he must have had all kinds of connections. It could have been an income to depend on, after he was dropped from "HAZEL". He probably thought about that, but got to busy to pursue it.