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:


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:




Wednesday, June 11, 2008


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.

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!