Owner & Mom of Big T’s

Leslie Gardner is more than the owner of Big T’s…she’s the mom and leader, too. As the keeper of our family traditions and the glue that keeps the crew together, she encourages everyone to pull together and be the best they can be.

Leslie grew up in a military family. Her father and all five of her siblings served in the Canadian Armed Forces. Leslie served with the Royal Canadian Dental Corp in Halifax, Borden, Moose Jaw, Trenton, and Ottawa. She was awarded the W.R. Thompson Trophy for significant contributions to field operations for the RCDC in her role as Sergeant Major of the Multi National Surgical Hospital in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Leslie retired from her position as the RCDC Branch Chief Warrant Officer in 2006.


After 26 years of military service, Leslie was ready for a new challenge and set her sights on the restaurant industry. She began as a franchisee for an established food service brand, bringing new locations into Western Canada when she moved to Alberta in 2006. After frequent moves her entire life, she was happy to put down roots in Calgary!

With over a decade as a franchisee under her belt, Leslie wanted to build something of her own where she could make wholesome, homemade food. As soon as she walked through the doors of Big T’s and sampled the Southern BBQ she was hooked! So she snapped it up, determined to make it a place she could be proud of.

Since 2014, Leslie and her son Andrew have built on Big T’s potential. With four locations and more on the way, they are thrilled to be bringing Southern Style BBQ to the people of Calgary and beyond.


When she’s not at Big T’s, you’ll find Leslie spending time with her family and friends. She has a great love for people, travel, art and exploration. Leslie has three wonderful grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews that she loves spending time with. She walks and plays daily with her beloved dogs, Cooper and Max. She also spends a great deal of time volunteering, supporting nonprofit organizations like the Calgary Dream Centre and the Mustard Seed.

Leslie says, “Big T’s is my family and I feel like the parent, nurturing, guiding, and watching this business grow. I am very proud of this family, and all the dedicated people past and present who helped get Big T’s to where we are today.”

Favorite thing to eat at Big T’s BBQ:

Smoked Brisket! I could eat it every day. If I want to go all out, I treat myself to our Smoked Chicken and Waffles. I also love our Smoked Maple Cheesecake. Cooper and Max love pulled pork the best.

Something people might not know about you:

I absolutely love craft beer. My very favorites are Blacksmith Beer by Village Brewery, Southern Aspect IPA by Banded Peak, and Barracks Brown by Wild Rose, all right here in Calgary. This really developed over the covid months, because someone had to drink it before it went bad. 😊

What you’re most proud of:

I am most proud of my family and our combined military service. I am also very proud of all that we have achieved in growing the Big T’s brand.

Drops of gratitude

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