Friday, November 14, 2008

Post

I'm in Correctionville Iowa........Pheasant hunting. As you may summize this post has not a dad-gum thing to do with BBQ, opening a restaurant, grilling, cooking, lude language, nudity, bootlegging or.........................uh...............grits. This is really just a post telling you that I have a lot to post about, but ain't gonna do it till first of the week sometime when I get time. Really I'm happy as a damn tornado in a trailer park to be doing this, because I'm a huge quail hunter.....but as any Southerner knows quail hunting ain't what it was 15 years ago, let alone in the 80's and before! We're hunting WILD Pheasant here........not some pen-raised birds let loose an hour before we put our boots on. We may not see any birds, and if we do they may take off way before we come on em'............30mph winds, scattered snow ain't helping us.......but surely that ain't why we're here is it? All I know is I'm not thinking about running a restaurant.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Whole Hog BBQ in Chester County, TN


So I rode down to the symposium with my buddy Carey Bringle, who is an amputee. How did he lose his leg? Depending on which night you ask Carey, you'll get one of the following answers:

1) He got his leg cut off with a pocket knife in a bar fight at Joe's Village Inn

2) He was swimming his daily laps in the Mississippi river when a wandering Bull Shark from the Gulf bit his leg off. Carey killed the shark with his bare hands and wrestled his leg out of its stomach, but the the doctors at Baptist Hospital in Memphis were not savvy enough to re-attach his femur bone.

3) One of the Ford brothers shot him in his thigh when Carey was running for Shelby County Commissioner.

Why mention that Carey is an amputee? Because riding with someone who's got one of those big-ass blue handicap signs hanging from their rear view mirror is like manna from heaven! I've never been able to just pull up and park right in front of the front door. It literally took me a couple days to get accustomed to it. It was awesome! Anytime I'm going anywhere and his ass is going, you better bank on it he's driving!

On the way though I wanted to take him through Henderson to eat at 1-2 whole hog BBQ joints. The two places I used to cook at, and learned the art, have since closed. One was Thomas & Webb. I credit Mr. Harold Thomas for really teaching me what I know today. He closed down and a place called "Bill's BBQ" is in its place. They cook with an electric cooker, which Im not going to get started on right here but will say two things; that ain't real BBQ and a man deserves a good ole' country ass-whooping for calling it bbq if its cooked on one of those electric cookers. Makes me sick. At any rate, we only had time for one, so I took him to Siler's Ol' Time BBQ. The pic is of Chris Siler, who is a great guy, and the damn near one pound pork sandwich I had. See that light colored chunk hanging out right there, thats the middlin' meat.......folks thats as good as it gets!

More SFA Pics........

my buddy Tyler Brown, executive chef at Capitol Grill at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville.

















That is Sean Brock (chef at McCready's in Charleston) in that lizard mask. All I was doing was having a nice relaxed conversation over a beer at the after party and Sean walked up next to me and growled.......I almost wet myself.


Me and legendary NASCAR driver/owner and Corn Likker' Legend Junior Johnson.

Southern Foodways Symposium

Went to the SFA's annual symposium in Oxford (Ole Miss) a week or so ago. This is the first symposium I attended. I have intended to go for 4 years now and always bump into some reason for having to miss it. I really regret not going earlier, what a fantastic event! This years event was as its title reads, the "Liquid South". Everything from southern spring water to buttermilk to moonshine. The speakers were absolutely hilarious yet informative. I still remember my summers staying with my grandparents, specifically my dads parents, in Corinth. We would come in at lunch and Ma-Ma would have this big lunch made for us and my grandfather would fill up a big glass of cold buttermilk and dip his cornbread in it. He'd get me to try it every time just so he could laugh at how much I disliked it. I just had a large glass of whole buttermilk and cornbread yesterday for my lunch.........funny how things take a turn on a man in life.
One of the speakers was a White House correspondent covering Jimmy Carters campaign when he was running for President. The story of Jimmy was good, but the real story was his brother Billy. All of the networks had their guys down there, a lot of which are now seasoned veterans of major networks. Every afternoon at 4:00 the correspondents would meet at Billy's gas station and drink beer. Then they, along with Billy and friends would go across the road to play a game of softball. Jimmy never missed a game when he was in town. If any of you know anything about Billy Carter then you know what an amazing character he was. He could absolutely care less as to what folks thought of him......that was really the real beauty of him. One afternoon Billy missed the softball game, but showed up at the station with everyone after for a beer or two. Billy and his wife had a son born that morning. Ed Bradly was one of the correspondents there and asked Billy about the birth. It was a live interview on national T.V......this is a true story. It went something like this:

Ed Bradly: Billy, congratulations on the birth of your son you must be excited.......

Billy Carter: Well yeah Ed, hell I appreciate it, we are proud of him.....hes a big strappin' boy!

Ed Bradly: That's great Billy, what did he weigh?

Billy Carter: Ohh Ed he tipped the scales at seven pounds and eight ounces...........................6.5lbs of which ain't nuthin' but dick & balls!



That was on live television for ABC's nightly news. When that guy told that story I about puked on the old Lady's neck in front of me I was laughing so hard.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ROUX!!!


Its that time of year again, for us at least, for Etouffee'......we cant keep it in! I took it off the menu to take pressure off of us producing it and we still cant keep it in stock. As with our "Q" we make it from scratch and take the hardest most authentic way possible. That basically means we dont cheat on our roux....because of that it takes a long time (1-2 days) to produce a small amount of it, maybe a couple of gallons. Its gone in 1 day! At any rate.....making roux has become for me a small vacation on Saturday nights. No inventory, invoices, writing checks, hearing complaints, bitching employees, emails.....NOTHING! Its just me, a six-pack of beer, my cast iron skillet and my thin whisk (dont start in on me with the wooden spoon.....i like the thin whisk better). Nothing to think about but stirring that dang roux........total peace!

Update

Last week ended up well. We are very steady in light of current economic conditions. Our sales have yet to dip other than the first week or two of school starting back, but that was expected. Our seasonal dip should start here in the next 4-6 weeks as we head in to the holidays, and that too is to be expected. We have two different demographics at Martin's; The hourly wage, blue-collar guy who works construction and the young semi-wealthy to very wealthy professional and his family. The first one has already felt his economic shock, back in mid to late summer. World markets doing the cannonball off the high-dive mean very, very little to him. I mean seriously, think about it......where is his investment portfolio right now? He felt his shock with the price surge in fuel, groceries, cigarettes etc., he's already digested that and moved on. Yeah maybe he pulled the old lunch pale out and is packing his lunch a day or two a week now, but he ain't doing it everyday! The second one, their wealth is such that we are still very, very affordable because of our price point. There are 4 price point categories in restaurants.....from most expensive to the least: fine dining, full service dining, quick-casual, fast food. The second guy and his family have cut back their visits to places that are in the fine dining and full service dining price points, but not the other two. Quick casual concepts (Martin's) and fast food concepts will fair much better in the next 18 or so months, if not longer.

The Nashville Scene had their annual "Best Of" awards last week......as you guessed it Whitt's won again. This is where I take my hat off as owner of Martin's Bar-B-Que and Im just typing here as a fan of BBQ, a fan of good food. This is like Fazoli's winning best Italian, its that ridiculous. It shows the level of ignorance, not stupidity but ignorance - there is a HUGE difference, in the local market in regards to BBQ. People who are not "foodies" sit down to vote for that one article every year and just start writing stuff in. They write in what they know and/or are familiar with whether its good or not. There is a Whitt's on every other corner in Nashville and lets give them credit, they have brand recognition.....thats the only reason they win this event every year. I dont give a shit whether you like BBQ or not, thats not the point I'm making.......the point I'm making is to appreciate good food and the people who are out there trying to put it out every day....the fact is that 90% of the time food from non-chain establishments always tastes better because the owners really care about what your eating and the quality of it. Their heart is in it. If you are not from Nashville reading this I may sound like a sore loser....Im not. Jim Ridley (Scene writer) named Dee's Q his pick and it is MOST deserved! Jim also was kind enough to write a few very nice things about Martin's that I appreciated very much! I'm just pointing out that we as a market have a ways to go in regards to appreciation of really dang good food....and for that reason we'll probably see Whitt's win for years to come..........but the real food freaks, they know whats good and where to go.....Hog Heaven, Dee's, Jim-n-Nick's (they fall into the 10% that are large and care about what you are eating), Jack's on Trinity and hopefully Martin's. Want to see this trend change? Then its our job as food lovers as we sip a beer at Bosco's in Hillsboro Village or play golf with some guys you dont know to talk about, inform and educate these ignorant bastards as to what good food is........tell them why pasta from Savarinos is better than store bought, tell them the diffence in truly great food and average food, or in this case BBQ. Do your good deed and educate the masses and lift our society! Life is just too dad-gum short to eat average food......it really is!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Post

Yeah I know I re-committed to my vows but alas I have fallen short, sounds like marriage huh? I actually have "blogged" a few times on Microsoft Word, saving the file to copy/paste it when I finished.....I just never finished. For those of you that dont know me personally, the term A.D.D. is an understatement when it comes to me. At any rate here's a quick update of the past month, in rapid-fire succession:

New menu went over well. Had to raise some of my prices a little, specifically beef/turkey products, but really the only change out of pocket to the customer is drinks are now a la carte. I thought and/or was afraid of negative feedback but really only had about 4-5 comments and those were respectful. Didnt have any assholes bitching about how expensive our food is.

Business continues to be strong. Last year September was our 2nd worst month in terms of gross sales. Think about it, a lot of changes happen around labor day for folks. Kids go back to school etc.. This September has been our highest grossing month of the year and we were up about 150% - 200% in gross sales compared to last September. Why is that? Well several things, two of which I think stand out. Last September we had only been open 11mths so time alone has increased our brand to the customer. I also would like to think we are staying consistent with our food which is creating revolving sales through loyal customers.

We officially had our 2 year birthday this past Thursday. I cant believe its been two years already. What I really cant believe is the stupid business decisions I made in the first 6 months and how under capitalized I was starting out..........its really a blessing from God that I'm still in business because of that! I get a bunch of emails from people wanting to do this very same thing in their town. Ill say it here like I say in my responses. 2 great pieces of wisdom I can give you after this 2 year rollercoaster ride: 1) get SUFFICIENT restaurant management experience before you do something like this -and- 2) however much you think you need to start up with, add 50%. Dont worry about whether your product, whether its BBQ or Pizza, is the best around and a lot better than any restaurant around. If you dont heed those two little tidbits of advice I just gave you then you are doomed. You will fail. "Oh Pat, you've survived two years and started with no experience and very little money"......I'm telling you its an anomaly! -But Im happy it is and look forward to many years to come in this business.

Really starting to build the catering business. Hired a girl to do sales for me that I'm really excited about. Lori Lockmiller is on board and we're just waiting for her cards. We've had some turnover at the joint thats caused some growing pains....good ones though. We've also had to hire a couple of extra folks. We now staff around 10 full time and part time.....a long way from when it was Bo on the line and me in the front.

The new menu added Baby-backs, cracklins, tamales, slugburgers. All are selling well except slugburgers, but we knew that going in. Slugburgers are homage to back home...Corinth, MS. They actually will start selling though once folks from Mississippi who live in Nashville find out we have them.

Updated my quickbooks and I'm now doing the books....this is a separate blog unto its own. This alone has been one of the most time consuming things/changes I've made in the past couple of months. Ill blog on this later.

Yeah so I gotta hit it.......Lord willing it should be a good day in sales. Weather is sunny & 65 degrees. Hopefully we'll knock it out today. Look, Im really trying to get back on this blog on a regular basis. Its hard though, working about 65+ hours a week.....then whats left I'm trying like hell to spend valuable time with my wife and two kids. The pics are random.....a couple of Porterhouses I grilled a few Sunday nights ago. What a 2.5" thick steak scares you? Not if you know what your doing! Alpha males dont screw with the 1" rib-eye from Kroger......find your inner "cave-man", you'll be happy you did.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dilworths Hot Tamales, Corinth Mississippi.




Hoping to post an update in the morning. In the mean time I thought I'd post some pics from one of my favorite dives. This is Dilworths Hot Tamales in our hometown of Corinth, MS. When I was in high school w'ed each buy 2 dozen and eat every damn one of em! Look at the price list!!!
Tamales are BIG in Mississippi.....really BIG! They are a little different than Mexican Tamales, but not much. If you want to learn more check out:
http://www.tamaletrail.com/

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Renewing my vows.....

God bless Jerry Reed, God bless Billy Carter.


Alright........put me back on your RSS feed, I'm renewing my "vows" to the blog. Its been an incredibly busy summer. Big things are on the horizon for Martin's Bar-B-Que that Ill get into in a few weeks when some of the dust settles.......but the point is I am going to start blogging on a regular basis again, a couple times a week at least. I didnt realize how well read the blog was until this summer, only blogging once every 3 weeks or so, getting emails from folks who are getting irritated at the lack of fresh content. I am going to give you a summary of whats been going on since my last post, not a lot of detail to it. Before I do that though I gotta tell you that my grandfather passed on to the good Lord this past Saturday morning. I wont take you through a bunch of stuff but we were close and he was a fine Christian man. His influence on me and my career as a restaurantuer was beyond what he knew. You see, my first entry and/or interest to cooking was watching my Dad grill. It was a process, it was methodical. Dad was almost annoyed at those who "grilled" on gas grills. The mention of lighter fluid was dang near sinful. At my household it is the same way. If I ever see my boy, Wyatt, with a can of lighter fluid......other than using it to light a fire to keep hypothermia setting in.....I will tear his ass up! We never had a drop of lighter fluid on our property. We always used a chimney starter with raw charcoal. I think the hook was set not by the taste of the steak, but by the process of getting there. There was a right way to do things and a wrong way and he was very serious about us grilling the right way. Well, my Daddy learned all that when he started dating Mom, from his future father in-law. Dad played basketball at Mississippi State and would come home on the weekends and Pa-King would grill. Dad grilled growing up with his Dad, but the "show".....the magnitude of the procedure......the "we're one of the few that adhere to doing it right"......the PRIDE, came from Pa-King. I dont know where or how Pa-King became that methodical about things, but I'm glad he did. I've had two loves in my life in regards to career, growing up in and working in the securites industry trading and selling bonds, and this restaurant. The first one I still miss greatly, and as I continue to pay down debt for this Joint will start trading some again from my own account. The second though I can trace where I am to Kit V. King teaching my ol' Man, who taught me, who took it even further.





We rolled out the new menu and new pricing. We've only had one comment on the price increase. The new menu items are Mississippi Hot Tamales, Baby-Backs, Slug Burgers, Brunswick Stew and Elgin Hot Guts (Texas style BBQ sausage). The sausage is not ready yet because of the producer dragging their feet, probably a couple of weeks away. The tamales have sold out, we're trying to make more today. The slugs have sold well and the Baby's are flying out. I'll be interested to see what my extended sales turn out to be.





Yesterday I wrecked the F-350 flatbed and the catering trailer. Some dick-head slammed on the brakes in front of me and gave me 3 options: hit him in the rear end and send his stupid ass through the windshield, keep sliding left and hit an on-coming car, or jerk the wheel right into a 6' deep ditch. I hit the ditch, tore out the whole dad-gum front end of my truck. Once I figured out I was alright, I jumped out to check the trailer.......it was fine. Then I got pissed and said some un-christian things about the bastard who caused the whole thing. I guess I'm gonna have to buy a used/new truck, which I dont want to have to do. I'll shop around over the next month or two and find a deal.





The website is coming in the next 3 months or so. It will be very interactive and sleek. A lot of audio/video content, retail store, this blog, etc..





In the process of having a 32-36' mobile kitchen built. I plan on putting the pit I have on the catering trailer on the back of the new mobile kitchen, and putting two custom whole hog pits on the catering trailer (one on each end).





So thats about it, Ill blog again in the next day or two. I also plan on using the audio blog quite a bit so keep an eye out for that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Update


Had to put a picture of my kids on this post. We went to Bobbie's Dairy Dip after Church for ice cream. It was a mess. Things still trucking along, biz is still great and with all due respect to my good buddy Carey Bringle - I've been busier than a one legged man in an ass kickin' contest. So heres the update:

MENU CHANGE
I've tried - for way too long - to hold my pricing, but its going to change. The only relief I can find today is a sepository laced with some of that menthol cooling gel. My wholesale pork prices have almost doubled since April! -kinda felt a "tinge" down there didnt ya? There ain't no getting around it and its something I hate to have to do, but its got to be done. So, we'll be charging a little more on some menu items just to make up the difference and we'll be introducing a few things too. We're bringing on baby back ribs in addition to our spares, Mississippi hot tamales, slug-burgers, pulled chicken sandwiches, brunswick stew, stewed cabbage, mac & cheese. Then we're bringing on a daily specials list that will have anything ranging from Mutton to shrimp po-boys. I'm also going to improve on some of the things that I have never been completely happy with but had to settle for. If you've been reading this thing since the beginning then you know that when I first opened up it was just Me & Bo. When there are just two of you, or three/four for that matter you are very limited on what you can prep & cook to keep up with demand. Baked beans is a good example. We needed baked beans that we prep up in a flash and have cooked in 45 minutes. We didnt have time to dice and sautee onions or green peppers, so they have not been where I want them to be but with the staffing we have now they are about to be. Actually not really going to change much of anything - the only things that I'm going to work on is Baked Beans, Green Beans - but we'll be able to keep up with other items we only have every so often, such as Etouffee' on a daily basis. The funny thing is we'll still have folks who for some reason must think we're just dying for their opinion. Its usually some tubby-fat-ass who thinks she's got the best recipe on the planet for this or that. What said tubby-fat-ass does not take time to consider is that recipes have nothing to do with it. Do you, tubby-fat-ass, really think that we're sitting back there in the kitchen making a 4 ingredient baked bean thinking its the best stuff on the planet? This is some of the pain you'll have to deal with opening your own place - people who cant fathom the difference between cooking for 4-8 in their home kitchen and cooking for 300 - DAILY - in a commercial kitchen. When its just you and one or two other people then recipes ain't got shit to do with it, getting it out as fast as you can with what you have does. Scan down this blog to about the first couple of months we were open and read about the crock-pot lady. I guess she's draining her back fat for lamp oil because I havent read about her crock-pot bbq joint opening up yet......but I digress. Sometime around middle of August we're going to start opening on Sundays. Not sure about the whole day yet but at least 10:00-2:00. The deck has been a huge payoff. I'm not seeing any increased business from it yet but it has greatly reduced waiting times for customers! I think its probably going to take a few months for word of mouth to circulate around that its open, at that point we might start seeing more business from it. Brew festival is coming up in two weeks. We had a pretty strong day there in sales last year so that should be fun. Sales are still very strong - up about 35% or more since this time last year. Im now realizing just how underfunded I was opening this place up. The good side to that is Im paying for a lot of stuff with cash as I go, not going further into debt. The bad side to that is any additional funds to pay down extra debt or go on vacation or whatever ain't there. When does it stop? How the heck do I know? We were recently named a top 5 BBQ Joint by Nashville Lifestyles Magazine. Thats a pretty dad-gum big honor to me. To even be in that conversation is flattering.

http://tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080630/NL04/306300010/1395


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yep....still crazy

Before I get started do me a favor, go to the tennessean.com and give us a vote for best BBQ in the "Toast of Music City" poll. The link is:

http://data.tennessean.com/v2/bin/toast/category.php?cat=108

Still crazy.....in a good way. The past 3 weeks have been our highest grossing weeks ever. We just opened the deck up a week ago tomorrow night, was hard to gauge it on Saturday because of rain etc......but by the looks of Friday night, its going to help with seating and help as an attractant. We're up around 50% in sales since this time last year, but still have not been paying much debt down over the past couple of months because the business we are doing is demanding more things/equipment to keep up. I'm paying cash for all those things as we go. Decor for deck, tables/chairs, additional fryer, new prep tables, cold well..........I could go on but wont. I'm hoping to be at the end of the tunnel on that stuff here in the next few weeks. I bought a 1985 GMC S-15 pickup truck saturday for $1000.00 cash. I have no "image" problem, dont need a status symbol truck/car.........no what i need is 30+ miles to a gallon! My chevy Z-71 is getting a whopping 9-10 miles per gallon - it was time for a change. So ol' Z-71 is going to be parked unless needed. This little truck is a 4 cylinder, two seater with tires about the size of a go-cart. If I ever get hit in this thing its over! I'd have a better chance of living if I were on a Harley............BUT I wont be spending $200.00 a week on gas anymore! See just from my House to the Joint is 25 miles one way, not to mention the running around I do during the day. This is what you call a good business decision. My buddies might laugh but I'll......you know the rest! Here are some recent articles/press:

http://www.gourmet.com/travel/2008/05/hoecakes


http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080622/COUNTY090101/806220356

http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080605/FEATURES01/806050320

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Update

Its been a long 4 weeks! Since Memphis in May, I've been running wide open. Things are going well, really well! Because of my schedule though its been really tough for me to take the time to keep this blog updated. I'm starting to get some borderline hate mail coming in on me for not posting in a while, so I figured I would try to bring everyone up to speed. First lets start with Memphis in May. Needless to say we had a great time. This year was just as much fun as last year and maybe better, with the exception of the fact that our team co-captain Dave Johnson had to leave early to be with his momma who was very ill. The food was unreal, thanks to Jason Mcconnell from Red Pony (smoked duck tamales!!!), Lobels (best dadgum meat on the planet), & Wood smoked provisions (best smoked fish on the planet). We placed 62nd.....horrid. That being said there was a very large rift inside Memphis in May this year. The folks who ran the actual competition had a falling out with the rest of the organization and left to start Memphis Barbecue Network. Memphis in May is month long event and the BBQ competition is just one week of the 4 week event. There is an awful lot of rumbling and discontent with how this years judging went. A lot of food sat in its boxes for over an hour before they were judged. The main newspaper for Memphis, the Commercial Appeal, has had 3 editorials since then bitching about the new organizing committee. No doubt they were in way over their heads, but you move on and Lord willing show back up next year ready to roll. We had to bring my rig down this year because fire marshall Carey Bringle burned the teams pit down and almost burned down all of Tyne blvd. in Nashville. The pit did well for its first cook, and we got really good scores from the judges. One we know was a perfect 10, another we think was a perfect 10 due to the comments (perfect, this is the best I've ever had, dont ever change a thing with this meat) and the other we dont know. The guy had a great poker face. His poker face made Chris Moneymaker's face look like Ed McMahon reacting to a Johnny Carson joke. At any rate, as usual we ate better and ate better than anyone down there. Next year.
I went home to get back to the Joint for a week and prepare for the 1st annual Franklin Food & Spirits Festival. This was a great event put on by the Southern Foodways Alliance, Jim-N-Nick's BBQ and the Franklin Heritage Foundation. I will tell you now that this event will become one of the largest and most well respected food festivals in our Country. The vision for this is massive, aggressive and extremely well funded. I'm excited to be a part of it. Friday night was a private event at Carnton Plantation in Franklin. The patrons paid $150.00 per head. They had me cook a whole hog in the tradition of West Tennessee (large hogs around 185# at a very low temp with nothing but wood coals, pulled) and they had legendary pit-master Ed Mitchell come in and do one in the tradition of Eastern North Carolina (smaller hogs, hotter temp, briquette charcoal, chopped with sauce). Then they had several well respected chefs from the South come in and cook. Jason McConnell, Sean Brock, John Fleer, Drew Robinson, Tandy Wilson, Martha Stamps. The event was unreal, we had a great time! I forgot to mention that Carey and Dave Story came out and sat up with me till 3 am the night before, which was much appreciated! Bo and Dave grabbed the morning shift so I could get some sleep. The next day was the festival in the square in Franklin. I had my rig serving our Redneck Taco's (pulled pork on a hoe-cake with slaw & sauce). Ed Mitchell cooked hogs, Chris Lilly from Big Bob Gibson cooked their famous chickens dipped in white sauce, Tony Stone from KCBS cooked brisket, Puckett's cooked ribs and Jim-N-Nicks cooked Brisket Quesidillas. There were documentary films shown by SFA, speakers such as John T. Edge and Jim Myers, Bourbon & Beer tastings and a whole lot more. Looking forward to next year!
Had a deck built, which will be finished by this Saturday. Ill post pics of it when its finished, they are painting it today. Ill be "redneckin" it up with decor on Friday. We have run out of space, I need more seating. This, Lord willing, will help a lot! Our business is up about 30% from this time last year, but Saturday nights are starting to slow a bit because we've developed the reputation that you wont find a seat after 6:30. I'm probably losing over $1000.00 in sales per week during that hour and a half. That has always been my peak time of the week! I hope this will capture it back!
During our time at Carnton, Ed Mitchell invited me to help him cook his hogs at the Big Apple Block Party. In a little over six years this event has become the largest BBQ related event in the world. It is not a competition. Much like Franklin it is a celebration. They invite the best of the best, or the most famous (thanks to folks like Food Network) - however you choose to look at it. I had already been planning on going to take Martha to the city and hang out with some guys at the event, so it was an easy decision for me. On thursday before I left the guy building the deck showed up. I flew in Friday afternoon , dropped Martha off at our hotel (the Jolly Madison) and went straight down to Madison Park (26th & Madison) to get the hogs on with Ed.
After we got the hogs on Martha & I met Nick, Drew & John Hare and their wives for dinner at Mario Batali's famous "Otto". It was some of the best Italian food I've had and the atmosphere was unreal. The next night Martha & met up with my old Merrill Lynch buddy Rob Jaffee. He and I, along with Dave Phillip, Brooks "Booger" Stevens and Chad Streiter terrorized the Chicago Board of Trade for a while back in the 90's. Man.....it was great to see Rob! Later Martha & I met again with Nick/Drew/John and John T. Edge at 11 Madison. This is one of legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer's places. The food, the experience.....I cant describe it to you on this blog. WOW! After dinner we all met John Currance from City Grocery at a bar. Great night. During Saturday & Sunday we cooked 24 hogs and served I dont know how many people. Ed, Aubrey, Reggie, Ryan, Craig....we worked our tails off! But it was fun! There were several hundred thousand people for the two day event. It was great! Sunday night I met up with Stevie at the Black Bear, a little dive bar a few blocks away. We met up with Kenny Callahan (Blue Smoke NYC), Chris Lilly & his brother and Michael Rodriguez (Salt Lick/Texas) for a late night. Yet another great time. Stevie G is hard on a man! This event was great, Ed was just awesome, as were the rest of the boys. Reggie (chef at Ed's place, pictured here with me) was one of the nicest guys I've ever met! Great guy! So this has been a long post, but I wanted to catch you up. Ill update this weekend with the deck.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Priorities


The trailer may only be half finished (albeit functional), but never mistake that my priorities are not in order. This afternoon I tatooed the pit with this. Rest in peace Waylon Jennings, rest in peace.

Trailer. Memphis in May.




Well the catering trailer I've been building is starting to take shape. The pics you see here have it about 50% from the finished product. Still have a little more welding to do for the sides, need to put the fridge in place, need to paint it (what you see here is just primer). Have it ready to cook though, and thank the good Lord. Last week Carey (Peg Leg Porker) burned down the teams pit and about 8 more houses on Tyne Blvd. Just kidding, but the teams cooker is done, R.I.P.! So now our only option is to use this one. Trying to get the competition switch put on it so the automatic fan will blow the coals to give a longer burn time. Leave for Memphis on Saturday for Memphis in May. Ill be doing a bunch of audio blogs from down there, you may not want to hit the play button on those if you are sitting in your office.

Friday, May 02, 2008

There is no title

Well its almost been a month, again, since my last post. Without taking you through the line of been working a lot and all that, well I've been working a lot. Things are really going well. Business is still up considerably from this time last year. The economy is really starting to take a toll though. Two weeks ago my pork prices jumped almost $.30 in one week. Usually there is a $.2-$.3 variance from week to week. I had my rep try to find out what was going on in the market for such a huge jump but really got the insight from some research from some friends of my Dads at a well known commodities firm in Memphis. Russia, China, & Japan are buying up pork left & right........mostly due to the fact that our currency is so cheap relative to the rest of the World. They can buy it much cheaper here. Prices jumped to levels we saw last July 4th, which is always the peak season for proteins such as pork & beef. Soaring grain prices are forcing packers to slaughter at a much higher rate, especially in regards to beef. The good side to this though is that the higher rate of slaughter might force the prices of beef to go down some due to putting so much supply on the market, but then again they could just keep prices where they are because of the summer season. Who knows......all I know is that I'm bracing for another 15-20% jump in pork prices in the next month or two. I am trying to get my new menu done to get my prices up in line with my costs. As I've said before I hope it doesnt piss my customers off but I have no choice, my food costs are really starting to get away from my model. Another line guy is leaving at the end of next week so thats something else I've got to handle, and Emily is leaving at the end of the month to stay at home with her sick grandmother. She may come in and work in a pinch if we need her, and she may come back after that sad time for her comes around. I'm trying to alleviate pressure on my seating on Friday & Saturday nights, figuring on maybe some outdoor temporary seating. We've now developed the reputation of being "too packed" on weekend nights, especially Saturdays. Most of our weekend customers come from Nashville/Brentwood, I'd say 80%. Where as 7:00 used to be our peak time it now hits a 15-20 minute lull before one last push going into the close. With only 48 seats, I've got to figure out some temporary seating. Katie "All-Star" Walker has my new T-shirt designs finished. Robby Lunday from the Peg Leg team is going to print those for me. I'm also going to get more of my original shirts ordered from Nick Mathews. So if you want to buy a shirt, shoot me an email at:

patrick@martinsbbqjoint.com

Buy one........hell I've got kids to feed!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

New Whole Hog Pit





Here are some shots of the pit. I've had two seasoning fires in it so far. I've got two more to go. Today I plan on wiping the inside real good with pig grease and then lighting another fire in it to "bake" that grease in the block. Lord willing tomorrow after church I'll light the fourth and final seasoning fire in it. Terry Harmon should have my grate made this week and Tom & Kenny are finishing my Hog box in the next few weeks. The pictures are of the pit before the first seasoning fire and a couple during the first one.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Yes......it has been a while.

I've been too busy to blog. This is the longest I've gone since starting this blog without a post. We brought the Aloha P.O.S. system in and things are going really well with it. The first week or so was a disaster but once we got used to it everything was o.k.......things at the Joint have been really hectic and that is the main reason I have not had any time for things such as the blog. Raul (Chocho), the main guy on the line in the kitchen left this week to go back home. We brought in a couple of new guys, one works lunch and the other works dinner. They have a lot of kitchen experience but like anything else its taking them a while to get used to our little nuances of doing things. Sergio is still there but heck he's still green since he's only been working in a kitchen now for about 6 weeks. So I've been pulling lunch and dinner at the Joint to make up for the slowdown. Sundays have been just for my family, but when you count my Mondays (thte other day we are closed) I've been clocking in about 70+ hours a week now for about 3 weeks to a month. Add that in with the fact that business is up over 50% from this time last year.....days and weeks are starting to run together.
Starting here in a few weeks we're about to start offering whole hog on Friday nights. I've had a pit built (finally!!) and now I'm just waiting on the grate and the holding box. We'll start off by just doing it every couple of weeks or so to see how it goes. I'll post pics later of the pit.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Times they are a changin'

Well this week we brought in the Aloha P.O.S. (Point of Sale) system to the joint. I purchased it through a re-seller called the Bodnar Group. My buddy Dave Story, who runs the kitchen at the Jim-n-Nick's Smyrna location put me in touch with his Dad, who runs the re-seller. I've known for some time now that this was inevitable. When you run a restaurant by yourself and/or with limited help, you would be wise to invest in one of these systems. I have asked Dave to guest blog to further explain things, but in short it enables you to manage every little thing, from labor to food costs to about 100 other things that I wont list here. I am really excited about it, I'm excited about what its going to do to help me manage everything. It should really make a difference for me of about a 15% savings on my controllables (labor & food).
That being said we are all still learning the system and it is slowing us all down considerably. Last night felt like the first week we were open. We pissed a few folks off last night because our wait times were considerably higher than usual. Thankfully most of them were regulars and understood. I spent a good bit of time explaining our situation and giving away some free food, but its all good though......its to be expected.....and in the next week or so we'll have it down and it wont be a problem, but my oh my is it causing a headache right now. Today was a lot better than yesterday.....huge improvement on everyones part. I dont think it will take more than a week for us to get it down. That being said we may have to go back to the old cash register for this Saturday if we cant keep up. I'll post Daves blog here in the next day or so, its part one of a couple to come.
Oh yeah........2 guys on my kitchen crew is leaving in a week and a half, so I've got that fire to put out. That could be a pretty big fire to put out if I dont find some good guys real soon. We'll see what happens........the good Lord will take care of us.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The week/Atlantic Sun Tourn.


The week has gone really well. Last year March was our second highest month in terms of gross sales. Last week was very, very strong and this week has started no different, mimicking last years sales and some. That being said I think Ma' Nature is about to slow our sales down. Today though we have snow moving in. Now if you are reading this and you dont live in Dixie.......the mere mention of the word snow is cause for panic. Even if its just a dusting folks stock up like they will be put out for days. And this snow forecast will be even worse, because its not gonna be a dusting.......they are predicting 2-6 inches. We have not had that kind of accumulation in several years. All we ever get around here really is usually a dusting that with the help of some rain will turn to "black ice" on the roads. So I'm bracing for a real slowdown!
Last night we catered the VIP room for the Atlantic Sun Mens/Womens Basketball Tournament. Dave Story helped out......he was a big help! My Lipscomb Bison's fell to East Tennessee State though. They need some help inside! I'll be looking to do an audio blog sometime in the next day or two.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

More Whole Hog.







Some other pics I have from B.E. Scott's in Lexington. The Pit-Master is Ricky Parkers (the owner) son Zach. I have a few more coming from about 17-18 years ago at Thomas & Webb Bar-B-Que in Henderson (where I learned to cook). Hopefully I can get them loaded up. I have more of L & L Bar-B-Que (now Ole' Time BBQ) which is another place I hung around quite a bit back when I was at FHU. When I get my hands on those Ill try to get them on disc and loaded into my Mac for the blog.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hickey.


This post has absolutely NO relevance. Hickey & I cooked some Osso Bucco, had a little wine and decided to give you a worthless blog.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Newspaper article in "Brentwood Life"

Here is the link to the article in Brentwood Life

http://www.c-dh.net/articles/2008/02/29/affiliate/brentwoodlife/business/01bbq.txt

Martin's Bar-B-Que and the Tennessee Department of Tourism



The week has been really strong! Yesterday we had an article on us in Brentwood Life (which I'll post a link to in the next post) which really helped yesterdays sales, particularly last night. But Tuesday and Wednesday were strong and I cant figure out why. Rain, snow, mud.......misery. Usually on days like that its slow, not this week. Dont know what the good Lord has in store for us today/tonight in regards to sales, but so far we've had a week comparable to late April/May. Could not come at a better time considering the bludgeoning I'm taking in regards to city/state/federal taxes. Yesterday Matt Burton came by to show me his new "attitude adjuster".......a 1974 Ford Ranchero with 351 V-8 in it. It is a very "proving" vehicle. We got our veal knuckles in on Tuesday and roasted them yesterday afternoon. I plan on making a stock with them today to be the base of the sauces I plan to make with some of the wines from Arrington Vineyards (Kix Brooks' winery). I neglected to mention here on the blog that the Tennessee Department of Tourism has elected to add Martin's Bar-B-Que & Arrington Vineyards to the their list of destination locations, much like they market a place like Loveless Cafe. The director of the Williamson County board of Tourism would like for the two of us to have a celebratory party for the occasion. I went over to Arrington Vineyards and Chris gave me a few bottles to play with. When I get this stock made I'll reduce the reds and see what I can make of it. Hopefully we'll be able to put a party together for the occasion!

Biz Blog #2-A; "Recession proof" foods

This article says it all.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23415510/

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Country Hams




This morning my father-in-law (Buzzy Neil) and I hung our country hams in our smokehouse here at the house. Thought I might include some pics right quick. These ain't the best pics and Lord willing I'll have some better ones later on. These hams will be ready to eat next christmas. We're cold smoking them right now for a month. They've been curing for the past month in the smokehouse.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Biz Blog #2: Food Costs

As I keep blogging about the business side to this thing, one constant you will notice is having to be disciplined about your % costs.  There is a window for everything and you have to stay within that window or you are about to screw up.  Food and Labor are your two biggest costs.  those two should make up around 55-60% of your costs.  Assuming you are planning on opening up a BBQ joint, one that is quick-casual like we are set up, you are looking for food costs to be around 23%-28%.  Full service dining is always going to be higher, so if you are going to have servers and such you will probably add a basis point or two to that, but not always.  Full service in general is higher because generally speaking the product is higher in quality.  For example, I've got a buddy that is executive chef at one of the big steak houses here in town.  Their percentage is around 39%.  High right?  It is, but dadgum they are clearing over $20.00 on average per steak, not counting the sides on the plate.  The higher the average ticket generally the higher the food cost.  As I sit here right now I cant tell you exactly what my food cost is.  I could take a pretty good stab at it, but what I do know is its high!  Now in two weeks I'll be able to tell you within the hour what % cost I am running for that particular day........all thanks to technology.  That is why I just dropped a whole bunch of money on a Point of Sale system.  I opened up operating with a cash register which gives you no real way to manage things.  That was a mistake, a big mistake.  Dave Story is going to guest blog about this in a few days so I wont go into it much more here.  The point is you have to manage that percentage really well.  Theft, waste, inventory mis-management, not paying attention to portion control (which is what I think my largest problem is) are all things that will "F" it all up.  By the way, your food cost does not include your paper goods such as napkins etc..  Thats another blog for another time.  We've done really well here at this location, but I would hate to see how much more money I'd have in my pocket if I had managed my food costs back then like I am starting to do now.  Dont make the same mistake I did.

Thursday, February 21, 2008




Tonight I went down to see my buddies at Eastland Cafe to shoot the bull and grab a couple of their UNREAL pizzas to take home to the family. Hal Holden-Bache and Nathan Wells run the kitchen over there for Chef/Restauranteur Willy Thomas. While I was there I was back in the kitchen shooting the bull with Nathan and Hal and thought we might do a small audio blog. So here it is.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tornado Victims





Catered an event at Stogie's in Cool Springs last night for the victims of last weeks deadly Tornadoes. They raised a fair amount of change last night for the victims........it was a great thing.




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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 life.....you 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!