Saturday, July 15, 2006

Martin's Dixieland BBQ Joint opening blog

Ga-dang........don't even know what I'm doing with this here blog, but a good buddy suggested I do it so here it is...

My wife and I are opening a bbq joint in Nolensville, TN in about six weeks. The cooker was ordered this past week, poured some concrete yesterday, graphic artist is in full swing; too much going on to list. I'm excited, but I'd be lying if I told you I wasnt scared at ass is sinched up so tight you couldn't pull a greased string through it right now.

Why am I doing this? Was it a lifelong dream? Yes. But that is not enough to do something stupid like open up a business with a 80% failure rate. The fact is, I have been living around Nashville (with couple of short stints in Charlotte & Memphis) for going on thirteen years and have yet to have truly good bbq around the Nashville area (no offense to those affiliated with local places). I feel there is a need for real deal BBQ around here! Sure there are some places I'll go to when I get the need for some bbq, but it is never as good as the joints I cut my teeth on in places like Henderson & Lexington Tennessee; not even close! What makes those places so much better? Keep reading...

I have been cooking barbecue for a long time (close to twenty years). I polished my skills cooking whole hog in a small town in West Tennessee called Henderson. In Henderson, they cook whole hog only; in cinder block pits at very low temps (200*). Most places either cook it too high, not long enough, or (God forbid) with electricity, etc. Some cook it once or twice a week, freeze it and warm it up with a water & vinegar solution to add moisture back to it. Some people do that same process, and instead of the water & vinegar they mix it all up with sauce to cover it up. If you ever, EVER eat bbq that is already mixed with sauce...I guarantee your ass one of the following...either
that meat is older than you would care to know and saucing it up is the only way to hide that
they dont know how to cook, know this and need to cover it up in hopes that you don't figure it out!

Some even cook their meat in an oven and pass it off as bbq. That is unforgivable! You either want to cook barbecue or you dont; there ain't NO middle ground! So if you are going to do it, then do it right or don't do it at all. Have some damn pride and give credit to the long time-honored traditions of the method of barbecue by cooking your meat in line with tradition.
The traditions start with good meat, temperature, time, real wood and LOVE, baby! Let me start with the last one; you dont get into the bbq business to get rich. If you do it will show in the meat. You have to love it to do it. You got to have some passion for it. Are there folks who have made a lot of money out there without the love and barbecue only? Of course. But more often than not, they loved it and the money found them. Am I hoping the money finds me? You damn right. But if it doesn't, I still will have had a good time. The meat I'll be serving is all natural. These hogs (and cows) are not raised by some mass meat packer (such as IBP) pumping them up with steroids, pesticides etc... The meat I'll be serving is raised by hog farmers, chicken farmers and cattle farmers. Did you know these plants serve chicken crap to the cows & hogs and serve dead cows and hogs to the chickens? Think I'm kidding you? Pick up a copy of "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History" by Michael Pollan. Take a glance through that and you'll start thinking twice about buying industrial meat. I feel we all have a responsibility to our own bodies to know what we are putting in them and we also have a responsibility to support small to medium sized farmers, no matter if you are some fat country boy or some skinny hippie vegetarian. Those traditions continue with the process of barbecue itself, which means slow and low! I will be cooking whole shoulders and whole briskets. I will be cooking my meat between 210* and 225* for 20-22 hours.....EVERY NIGHT! None of this cooking once or twice a week and serving you crap with sauce slaw and a bun. When you eat my bbq it will be fresh. You will know that the sandwiches, ribs, chicken, whatever you are eating was being cooked all night long while you were asleep. It will have been cooked with a combination of seasoned hickory wood, oak and apple. The sauces will be made fresh in-house and are my recipes. These are recipes I've been tinkering with for well over a decade in my own kitchen and spending a lot of nights drinking cold beer around a pit with guys like Bryan Chandler, John McCall, Michael Blankinship, Eric Lamb, Chris Harris, Russ Wallace, Tracy Jarrell, Russ Hickey and Burt Williams. The slaw, beans, rubs...everything is my recipe. This joint will excel or fail dependant on my cooking style and recipes.
I plan on blogging daily if time permits. I am going to be pretty open and very blunt with my blog. You will read the exitement, the fear, the good and bad decisions I make, and eventually whether or not this joint succeeds or not. For those of you who one day consider opening a joint of your own, this should be a pretty good place for you to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Talk to you tomorrow, y'all be good and give thanks to the good Lord above.


in the 'Ville said...

Ya dang right on that one! I live up here in Louisville, Kentucky and there is no one, NO ONE, who can cook barbeuce like they do in the real south. I read that you mentioned Henderson, TN. I saw that town mentioned in Bon Apetit magazine a few years ago I think. I bet your barbecue will be great and I commend you for doing it for the love of hog. Good luck in your new endeavor and I may be driving down to taste your new 'que!

William Long said...

Pat - I've known you since first grade when you pulled your pants down to make people laugh behind Mrs. H's piano. I've got one thing to say...It's about time buddy! You've been building up to this point for over 20 yrs now. Can't wait to see it in 2007.


mimir said...

Well, it’s about time you followed your passion and cooked Hog for a living. I, like everyone else who knows you, believe BBQ is your true calling. I cannot wait to be at your opening with a belly full of Hog wondering if I should purge myself before going for thirds. You are the original Sith Lord of the BBQ Pit and I think it is about time everyone else found out!


Big H said...

Congrats, Pat. Good to see people following their dreams, especially those festering as long as yours. As far as BBQ goes yours is so good it makes my tongue come out and slap my brain. I sure hope you sell your rub as well because, my wife thinks that I can cook because of that stuff. Can't wait for opening day! Good luck and hang in there!


P.S you might want to change your profile to Male. LOL

hearts n TN said...

This is good news for me, cause my boyfriend will have something to do on the weekends now, while I'm up here in hills of Virginia.Just don't keep him up too late!

Your blog reminds me of when I bartended and I made a concoction called a Eva-rita. People came from all over to sample this poison. I made it with LUV....(and my martinis aren't that bad either...and you know who you are).

Pat's got the same commitment to his's the pride that keeps people coming back...nothin' but LUV BABY!

Jim Reams said...

What kind of crazy person would open a BBQ joint?

Good Luck from all of us here at the Mothership in Nashville.

Lynnette & Jim said...

Hiya Pat -

We've never met, but we live in your area and look forward to visiting your new bbq joint.

Love your blog too -- it's raw, upfront, and real. A great way to see how a business really gets started.

Keep up the good work!

Lynnette & Jim said...

Hiya Pat -

We've never met, but we live in your area and look forward to visiting your new bbq joint.

Love your blog too -- it's raw, upfront, and real. A great way to see how a business really gets started.

Keep up the good work!

Pat Martin said...

lynnette & jim.....thanks for the post.....i hope i dont dissapoint you, i dont think i will. please keep reading and please come by opening week, your meal is on me (just remind me!) thanks again, i need all of the moral support i can get!!!

Cliff E said...

From another old friend going back more then 20 years. We all know how surprisingly hard it is to find a jaw dropping meal at any restaurant these days. I feel we've become complacent in our search for quality, settling for the mediocre and rationalizing it through either the ambiance or the portion size. Pat, you've hit the nail on the head. There is such a depravation of pride, determination and love these days in our restaurant community.

You and your idea are THE recipie for success. You're also the only person I know that can pull this off. So stoke that fire and show em how its done! I'm with you all the way brother. As Justin Wilson once put it "My taste buds are crawling over eachother just to get a little taste".


E. Cullison said...

Glad I bumped into you the other night and heard about this new venture. Thanks for the beer, and I'm looking forward to the opening.


ralphamos said...

best I ever had-

What is this Blog???

You ever been sitting around cooking for your family and friends and been told the following: "Hoss, this is the best I've ever had in my dadgum have got to open up a place of your own". The thought crosses your mind to do just that, but for whatever reason you dont. Well I'm "that" guy that actually went through with it and did it. I had absolutely ZERO restaurant experience! I decided to start this blog about my own experience hoping that it may be of some use and help to others who might be interested in opening their own place.
I learned this craft almost 20 years ago cooking whole hogs on brick & cinder block pits at a couple of little BBQ Joints in Henderson, TN. I learned from old, lifelong career Pit-Masters, working with them as an apprentice during school off and on for four years. Over the course of that time I learned the old, time-honored craft of REAL pit barbecue. At Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint I am trying as hard as I can everyday to bring that time-honored authenticity to my customers.
As you read you'll see I've made some stupid decisions, and I've made some good decisions. If you are thinking of opening a restaurant, especially a BBQ Joint, read this blog! Maybe some of this info can be of use to you. At the very least you will be entertained because I pull no punches.
Now listen, this is my blog to not only help with information but my blog to freely rant about my day to day experiences. There is no real "bad language" on this blog but there might be some things said that are very "tongue in cheek". If you are easily offended and/or cant see the satire in my posts then please just leave the blog. It will save both of us the annoyance of each other. For those of you who do like satire and are looking for good information about this experience, then by all means enjoy!