TOMBSTONE - Cooking meat with smoke and heat has become somewhat of an artform for John Marshall.

It’s an artform that has evolved into one of Tombstone’s popular new eateries where inviting hints of slow cooked meat waft through town from Puny John’s BBQ.

John and his wife Amanda “Mandy” Marshall opened the restaurant in Tombstone’s historic district in time for Tombstone Helldorado Days, October 2016. Since opening its doors, Puny John’s has become one of the town’s solid new additions, featuring in-house sauces and rubs, prepared in John’s signature barbecue style, along with homemade sides. The restaurant’s menu of juicy pulled pork or chicken sandwiches, tender beef brisket and St. Louis style ribs offers something for every barbecue connoisseur.

“We specialize in brisket, pulled pork, ribs and whole hogs,” John said. “Don’t forget to try out homemade barbecue sauces. They come in mild, hot and ass of fire hot!”

While John’s low and slow barbecue style may be new to Tombstone, he has been dabbling with barbecue techniques for more than two decades, borrowing different styles from all over the globe.

“I was in the Air Force and traveled to different parts of the world for 20 years,” he said. “I would volunteer to cook for different military functions, and when I was stationed in Korea, I would cook for about 30 people every Sunday. Those barbecues started growing, until I was cooking for 100 or more people.”

Marshall said that every country he visited had its own version of barbecue. “I have taken my favorite types and recipes from my travels and blended them into what I feel is an award winning product.”

The Marshalls moved to Sierra Vista in 2012 and started a catering business in November 2014. They also worked a few local festivals in the area out of a concession trailer.

“Everyone kept telling us we ought to start a restaurant,” John said. “When we discovered this historic building in Tombstone was for sale, we decided to buy it.”

Located at 11 S. Fourth Street, Puny John’s is about halfway between Fremont and Allen streets in Tombstone’s historic district. “We’re in a historic building, so we had to go through the Historical Preservation Society for approval on all renovations to the building’s exterior,” he said. “The front of the building is adobe and was built in 1933. The back portion was once used as a house, built in the late 70s or early 80s. So we gutted the house and turned it into the kitchen and dining area.”

In addition, the Marshalls had to build a 20 by 20 block and steel building for the smokers. The restaurant shares two adobe walls with the OK Corral and Tombstone Marshal’s office. When the smokers are fired up, both the marshal’s deputies and OK Corral employees are drawn through the doors by the tantalizing smell.

“I’m actually very pleased with how we’ve been doing since opening,” said John, who is already planning to expand the restaurant’s outdoor patio seating from 30 to 70.  Inside, the 2,900 square foot building seats 84. Along with the restaurant, the Marshalls do catering.

The restaurant officially opened Oct. 21 at 2 p.m., just in time for the town’s Helldorado Days rush. At the time, the cooking was still being done out of a concession trailer parked on the property while the Marsahlls waited for hoods to be completed in the kitchen.

“It was pretty hectic, but we go through it,” John smiled. “For a new business, we’ve done very well. The Marshal’s Office held their Christmas party here, the Park Rangers Tucson division held their Christmas party here and the Border Patrol agents from the checkpoint on Highway 80 place orders with us all the time. We also have several locals who come here regularly, along with a steady stream of tourists.

Including John and Mandy, the restaurant has six employees.