Northeast Minneapolis is shaping up to be a nice little barbecue district, indeed.
Following hot on the heels of Market Bar-B-Que's announcement that they'll be moving to 220 Lowry Avenue NE in November, the team behind Minnesota BBQ Company announced they'll be settling into a home less than a mile away, at 816 Lowry Avenue NE. (Another 'cue joint called Lipstick Pig is slated to take over the former Legends Bar & Grill on East Hennepin.)
Who is this team behind Minnesota BBQ Company? Why, none other than the celebrated culinary oddballs of Travail Kitchen & Amusements, the pride of Robbinsdale, the hunks/babes of annual Sexy Chef Calendar fame.
But they're more than just their good looks, you pigs! These budding pitmasters -- led by longtime Travailian Kale Thome -- have been perfecting their Kansas City-style smoked meats with all the fixins. From the Minnesota BBQ Co. website:
Kale's serving up smoked ribs, brisket sandwiches, smoked duck, half chicken, apple bacon sausage, slaw, baked beans, house made pickles, and a sweet and savory sauce to top it all off. Look for that great crusty bark on his brisket and watch the meat fall off the rib bones. This Kansas boy knows his stuff, and is helping put Minnesota on the barbecue map!
The building will be small, just 750-square feet, and will operate primarily as a kitchen for takeout, catering, and limited delivery. If all goes according to plan, the smokers will be smoking and the fixins will be fixed by sometime in August.
Can the gastronomical rascals of Travail, home of the $100 dinner ticket, be stewards of a categorically unfussy, froufrou-free cooking tradition? Can we trust a guy named Kale with our precious smoked meats?
If their other operations -- Travail, Pig Ate My Pizza -- are any indication, the answer is an emphatic yes. We'll just have to wait until August to find out for sure.
Meanwhile, Travail founders James Winberg, Mike Brown, and Bob Gerken will be busy with some other big changes: Travail Kitchen & Amusements is moving across the street into a new two-story building with a rooftop patio. Pig Ate My Pizza will take over the former Travail space and expand into a chef-driven brewpub.
Travail is also introducing a tiered membership program -- $300 for Travailan, $1,000 for Travailian Plus, and $2,500 for Travailian Prime -- for its extremely devoted fans. Among the perks are first-access to ticketed reservations and a free daily beer and food at Pig Ate My Pizza for the first tier; for the second tier, a cooking class, Travail aprons, and a knife stuck in the ceiling of the new Travail building with the member’s name on it; and for the third tier, everything above plus a beanie, tickets to a soft opening in the new space, and more.
Then again, think of all the brisket $1,000 would get you.