Liz Chartrand and Brendan Bain were fairly confident their new barbecue and smoke house would be busy, but the first month of business has been off the charts.
“Usually you want to ease into it,” says Chartrand, who also owns Lizards Bar & Grill on Exmouth Street.
“We didn’t do any advertising when we opened because we wanted to train everyone and work out the details first.
“All I did was put something on my Facebook page and it’s been crazy ever since.”
Chartrand and Bain, who was a cook at Lizards, were aiming for a Dec. 1 opening of the 92-seat restaurant at 1406 London Rd. (formerly KFC). But renovations took longer than expected and it was pushed back to Dec. 27.
“We gutted the entire place and opened up the ceiling,” said Chartrand.
Bain’s BBQ & Smokehouse is family-friendly with booths and a $5.99 children’s menu. It also has a long bar and a pool table, as well as a booming takeout business.
The interior has an industrial feel with textured concrete walls and exposed ductwork.
Many nights, lineups have been out the door, but anyone with reservations will be seated within a few minutes, said Chartrand. She urged those who want takeout to call 60 to 90 minutes ahead.
“Everyone’s been waiting for this, but it’s not fast food,” said Chartrand. “There’s a lot of prep time to this menu.”
She credits Bain for coming up with the concept and “tweaking” traditional items like a pulled pork sandwich ($11.99) and beer can barbecue chicken ($11.99 for a quarter dinner).
Central to the operation is a large fruit wood smoker that can handle 120 pounds of meat at a time. It’s producing smoked wings, chicken, ribs, pulled pork, sausage and beef brisket every day, all day, and Chartrand said she’s starting to wonder if they should have bought a larger smoker.
“The secret is to do it long and slow. The pulled pork is smoked for 14 hours and the ribs are at least 3.5 hours in there. It’s full of flavour but it takes time.”
She said some customers are surprised the rib meat isn’t falling off the bone.
“Sarnia isn’t necessarily used to smoking. This is something different in the city.”
Smoked meat usually has a pinkish colour, even when fully cooked, Chartrand said. “Everyone seems to love it but we’ve had to explain the process to a few customers.”
About 20 full-time and part-time workers have been hired, including eight in the kitchen. Cook Lenny Draper transferred from Lizards and worked on the recipes with Bain, said Chartrand.
The kitchen at Bain’s BBQ & Smokehouse is open 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily. Call 519-491-5964 and check out Facebook for the full menu.
AVOID LEADERSHIP MISTAKES
International HR specialist Jack Smalley will speak on how to avoid the top 10 leadership mistakes Wednesday, Feb. 4.
Smalley provides HR training and consulting to 650 Express Employment Professionals offices in Canada and the U.S. He’s worked at the executive level in a number of industries including oil, chemical and packaging with an emphasis on manufacturing, engineering, sales, logistics and corporate management.
Smalley will speak at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce from 8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Members $20; non-members $30. Incudes breakfast. Register at www.sarnialambtonchamber.com.
Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.