Phillip Young calls himself a “palate pleaser.”
He loves food and wants customers to love his barbecue.
Young — owner of Phill’s Corner Grill — shows great care to the tri-tip, ribs, hot links and chicken that he barbecues in a steel barrel. The barrel is in the parking lot of the Valero gas station/mini mart at Sunnyside Avenue and Third Street.
Young serves customers in a corner inside the station. All orders are takeout.
He believes the secret to barbecue is love, and to him, that’s not a cliché. “You love someone — you’re going to tend to them,” he said.
The same goes for the meat on his grill. He’s intent on bringing out the best flavors.
So Young never pokes his barbecue with a fork because that would allow succulent juices to dribble away. He also waits for 20 minutes to slice meat after it comes off the grill. The extra time allows the juices to settle in.
“The fullness of flavor and the fullness of a meal — that’s what I give customers,” Young said.
He also offers them his creativity — and his humor. One of his side dishes, for example, is “X-Rated Mac N Cheese.” He spices it up with pepperjack and a variety of seasonings and serves it with a crunchy top.
“Truthfully, when you create something, you want to give it a name,” Young said. “And we try to keep it fun around here.”
The fun begins early in the day. Young’s breakfast menu consists of burritos and breakfast sandwiches — all come with various meats. He also offers the All American Breakfast (eggs, potatoes, Texas toast and a choice of meats) and the All American Slam (same items, plus two pancakes). Prices range from $4 to $6.99.
The lunch and dinner menu consists of five dinners — barbecued tri-tip, ribs, hot links and chicken, plus fried fish. Prices range from $10 to $13. All dinners come with two side dishes and cornbread.
Meat lovers also have plenty of burger options. All have double patties topped with pastrami or tri-tip or a sliced hot link. They come with fries and are $9.
Additional items are Wings N Fries ($7.50), Grilled Chicken Salad ($8) and Tri-Tip or Steak Salad ($9). Phill’s Corner Grill does catering — offering a whole tri-tip for $22 and a slab of ribs for $25.
Young became interested in cooking as a youngster in Fresno. “I had family in the restaurant business, and I had the opportunity to hone my skills at an early age flipping burgers and making desserts. I started young and knew my passion,” he said.
Since graduating from Fresno’s Bullard High School, Young has worked at numerous restaurants — rising from line cook to corporate manager trainer with one chain. He also went to school to study restaurant management.
When he worked for others, he said, “I always treated my jobs like I was the owner. You always want to learn the ins and outs of what you’re doing.”
Then seven years ago, Young opened Phill’s Corner Grill. “I thank God for blessing me with this opportunity,” he said. “I understand what it is to struggle with my own business, particularly at first, and what it is to be successful. I definitely feel that I’m established now.”
To be located in Clovis is “enriching in so many ways,” he added. “There are lots of good people here.”
In addition to providing his customers good-tasting food, Young is focused on new ways to expand his brand in the future. One of his ideas is to open another restaurant that would feature his version of a California cheesesteak.
Like the well-known Philadelphia cheesesteak, it would be made with thinly-sliced pieces of beefsteak (or shrimp or hot links or chicken or tofu) plus melted cheese on a long roll. Young’s creation would feature California cheese plus the colorful peppers and onions grown in the state.
He has ideas for other restaurants, as well, describing his entrepreneurial planning as “lovin’ on a lot of stuff.”
Young added: “My girlfriend says, ‘You need to write down your ideas.’ I tell her, ‘They are written down — on my brain.’ ”
Phill’s Corner Grill is at 304 Sunnyside Ave. The phone number is (559) 709-0978. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday; and 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday.