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BBQ tour for research

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I am exploring the idea of opening a barbeque/rib joint, there are none in this town except for bufalo wild wings is expected to open this spring. I have found an old chinese resteraunt for sale in a good location, selling for $35k not including the land which would be a lease. I love to BBQ and would love to open a "joint" but would first need to do some "research"
So my question is....for research purposes, what would be some of the best hole in the wall BBQ joints in the country to visit for menu ideas, themes etc...I know I should get a lot of opinions. For travel purposes the east coast would be out of the question. I am thinking about making two stops in totally different parts of the country to get some diversity in bbq style. Like maybe Texas and Memphis or KC. But open to any and all suggestions.
post #2 of 25

Check out this link...

Great idea, doing the research!

I wouldn't call this place a "hole in the wall" -- but it's a small local outfit (3 locations) that really do a great job. In fact, it was my first visit there several months ago that rekindled my passion for BBQ, leading me to this forum, and the purchase of my new Char-griller.

You might not be able to visit, but check out their web site -- a nice story of how they came to be, a basic menu, and a mission statement that as a customer I can tell you they truly live. I think the key to the success of this outfit is they make darn good Q, and really work to provide service to the customer.

And no, it's not my place (I wish!!!), and I don't even know the people who own the business. Just an impressed customer grateful that they helped lead me back to the land of smoked meat!


Good luck with your endeavor!
post #3 of 25
Now there's a place in Ocean Springs Miss. called "The Shed" it was on Diners drive ins and dives on the food channel (just the other day too) has a theme that would be killer with some off the walls stuff hanging everywhere from old licen s plates to an ole redneck fishin D vice. Thge only thing was that the BBQ SUCKED but if you could make it good and you might just have something. This place just looks and fells like a place to hang out an party with bands and all. It's just too cool to have sh.....y BBQ. There's a link with some picture.
If you look at the slogan I thinks it says it all:
"A Family Food Drinkery:
post #4 of 25
That sounds awesome. I've never owned a resturant, but know a few people that have. They say it's much harder than they had ever imagined. So be sure you know what you're getting yourself into and hire people you can trust not to rob you blind when you go home to take a nap.

On your way through to Kansas City and points further south. You really should check this place out. They ranked 2nd Overall for the 2009 KCBS, 16th in Chicken, 11th in Pork Ribs, 11th in Pork, 5th in Brisket. They've got some serious hardware and quite the following. Obviously they know what they're doing. They finished 9th overall in 2008.

Here's another link to a pretty good place that's doing a booming business out of a little joint in a place that I never thought would attract the business that it does. Could be a decent business model. It's a tiny little place that only seats maybe 20 people. In the summer they put out a few picnic tables. Spend very little, turn out a great product, and people will seek you out.

Good luck!
post #5 of 25
I have enjoyed "Dreamland"- the Mobile AL location

As well as several in the Charlotte NC area. Al's, Red Bridges, Lancasters. Anything that isnt a chain I like to try.

In New England I like the Moat Mountain smokehouse (North Conway, NH) and KC's rib shack in Manchester where the moto "nice rack" is perfectly displayed on some of the staff......

The key is to try everyones and get a feel for the atmosphere that seems to make people feel at home- nothing fake or too flashy, and then add your own touches from there.
post #6 of 25
Here in Kansas City There are several must visit places.

Oklahoma Joes in Kansas City, Kansas is located in an old Gas Station.

Here is a link to their site and menu. http://www.oklahomajoesbbq.com/resta...utMenu0106.pdf

Here is a link to their web page. http://www.oklahomajoesbbq.com/

If you decide to come to Kansas City, contact me and I will get you a list of all the restaurants in the area worth checking out... Plan on either eating A LOT or several days...
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
I realize it will be a lot of hard work, and may not be successful, but I am at a point in my life that I just need to do what I love. It is a big risk, and I am still contemplating if it is one worth taking. It used to be a "pipe dream" but is looking like much more of a reality as of late.
post #8 of 25
Here are a couple of places that are pretty popular and have great menus.

This place is in my hometown in Salina, KS. It is extremely popular and successful. They went from a tiny shack to a decent sized restaurant. They also do a lot of catering for picnics, weddings, and local fairs and festivals. I even noticed they have burnt ends on the menu.


This place is a couple miles from my current house in Colorado. I haven't been there yet on account of owning my own smoker, but I have been wanting to try it out. Their menu looks pretty good too, pretty standard. Texas Toothpicks are a great app.


Good luck with everything. I don't know how local breweries do up there, but that might be a good addition eventually.
post #9 of 25
The Dude is correct, we have been to both places and they are great, we are coming down in July for a Goldwing rally and will go to Smokey D's again for sure, opening a joint is also my dream but no money yet
post #10 of 25
If you make it as far as KY this place is probably the most successful in the Louisville area.

post #11 of 25
Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur, Al!

Dreamland BBQ in Birmingham, AL
post #12 of 25
Junkie...small world.
I've been away from the forum for a bit, but you are absolutely correct that this town needs a proper BBQ joint. If I can help you at all, drop me a PM.
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
H8ter, I might need some help, I think first of all I need to start up a team and do some comp's, there are two in MT that I know about. One in Absarokee and one in the Bitteroot Valley. I currently have two others that are interested, just need to get together and figure out the details, are you interested?
post #14 of 25
I'm going to have a bunch of reposts going up in the next few days, so you can see some of the stuff I've done. I had a ton of stuff get wiped off of here after the site crashed last year, and I really haven't gotten to active in the community since then.
post #15 of 25
You may want to spend that money on some local research. What is good in KC or Memphis may not be accepted in your town. Just some ideas, volunteer to do a dinner at your church with your BBQ, do a couple of different ways and find out what goes over best. Look at what goes in the garbage, do a blind taste study that everyone can participate in. Let them rate the different types of Q.

Invite everyone you know to come over and try your BBQ. The only requirement is that they give you their honest opinion. The more people that sample your food before you spend the money to open a restaurant the more customers you will have once you open. Do a booth at a local fair, seems like a great learning experience plus you will get the opinion of people actually paying for the food. I believe you can build a following with limited risk and expense.

If Helena is not a big tourist town 95 percent of your customers will be repeat customers or have the potential to be repeat customers. You need to find what works for them.

I would think that the restaurant has to be your style, look at local places that people enjoy and start there.

I just know too many franchise places open up down here and are completely out of place with both the food and decor.
post #16 of 25
Good advice above.

As far as your trip, my all time favrite bbq place I have ever been to (and thats not a whole lot) is the original Arthur Bryants in downtown KC. Its not an extremely nice place, but the food is good, and the atmosphere is there. Make sure you speak up when you order, they make fun of quiet people!

I like the idea of just throwing a bbq party and having a bunch of people over, give you an idea of what you are getting yourself into.

Also, if you go through the trouble, of course talking to people is a must, getting their opinion, but lets face it we live in a society that can be pretty nicey nice to your face. Set up some survey cards or some anonymous way for people to let you know what they think as well.

Good luck, opening a bbq joint would be a blast I think, but a ton of work. BBQ joint has to be by far the most demanding of the food places, just because of the time involved in cooking the meat.
post #17 of 25
No harm in dreaming, eh?
As far as TX joints go, I was born and raised in TX, left for awhile, then went to grad school there for 6ish years (then left again).

I'd say a trip to TX would have to involve a trip to Lockhart which is not far from Austin and has a few very well known places. Not too far from that area is Bryan/College area, outside Houston, of course San Antonio. The Hill Country has some good places too. All pretty well known for good traditional TX BBQ. Check out back issues of the Texas Monthly BBQ issue which comes out once a year. There's tons of little off-the-map joints and trailers, and plate sales, that riddle the state with damn fine BBQ. The state is large enough that it'd be worth your while to pick up a BBQ guide book or two.

As with Que in most states, in TX it is heavily influenced by it's location and regional culture. South TX tends to incorporate mexican influences, East texas brings in cajun/LA flavors and meats, etc.

Good luck and keep us posted!
post #18 of 25
Coffee J -,
Very cool idea and the best to ya on your joint. When I read this, A & J's Chicago Style BBQ in Phoenix IMMEDIATLY came to mind.

Simple food with AMAZING TASTE. I swear to the Lord above, I put Abe's kids through college, while I was going to college! I would say I probably ate there an average of twice a week. And in the end, actually sold Abe and Jean some pinto beans for their baked beans (come from a long line of pinto bean farmers).

Anyway - some cool take aways for your new joint, check out this link:

The pit was right behind the counter - you could actually seem them put on whatever, from slabs, to chicken, to hot links. Meat started out on the end by the counter and sloooowwwly was moved towards the back where there was an access door straight into the kitchen (that's where Jean was!).

He also sold beer by the pitcher.

The only thing I feel he missed that would be a smash at a BBQ joint would be a rock star desert - Peach Cobbler for me, Please!!

As you will see, Abe retired and his nephew runs the place now. Stopped over last spring break while in Phoenix and ate three of his pork sammies!

Hope this helps. If you, or anyone, is in Phoenix, you gotta try this place.
post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
We have a party every spring, and the que is always a big hit. Skipped it last year because the band that plays broke up. But thinking about doing it this year again. This is great advice, for the party I could focus on some menu items that I would ultimately serve at a restaurant. I think you are both right, need to build a following, the party would be a great start. Also will look into some events around town that I could set up a shack and sell the food, then give the profit to charity or something.....you got me thinking now. I think if I could also win a few comps that would just add to the following and help with marketing. I am thinking about 2-3 years down the road anyways.....
post #20 of 25
I don't know who it was, but somebody was running a shop that closed down a couple of years ago. He was at the Howard Johnson, then somewhere by the library. It might benefit you to track him down, and find out why his failed. Also there is a guy that runs a shack at the go kart / batting cages. I haven't had a chance to try his yet, but it seems a little low key.
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