The first Barbecue Pit family restaurant was opened on Dec. 16, 1947. It was located in the Maryland Hotel on 6th Ave. in downtown San Diego. It was opened by Joe & Lila Browning and Ed & Mella Jenson. Lila and Mella were sisters. Joe Browning arrived in San Diego during World War II as a member of the U.S. Navy where he fell in love with and married Lila Coates. Joe came from Texas where he learned the barbecue business from his step-father, R.T. Shoemaker. R.T. owned several barbecue restaurants in the Dallas area called “Shoemaker’s Famous Barbecue”. After the war it took just one hot summer in Texas to convince Joe and his new bride, Lila, that San Diego was the place for them.