Louisville BBQ Restaurants Receive Community Support During COVID

As the end of summer approaches, you might be thinking about firing up the grill by the pool and drinking some beer. But, alas, the coronavirus has changed the way we do everything in 2020 – and Labor Day celebrations are no exception.

Fortunately, as we have traveled for a year like no other, so have the local restaurants. This week I reached out to the owners and operators of two Louisville barbecue restaurants who are ready to have ready-made holiday weekend meals. They talk about what it has been like to serve the chest and ribs during a pandemic, and what they hope we all take away from the experience.

“Our restaurants are more than just places to eat,” said Chad Cooley of Momma’s Mustard, Pickles & BBQ. “This is where we’re going to celebrate. This is where we meet with family and friends. This is where we go for this dish which seems to improve everything.

Momma’s Mustard, Pickles & BBQ

102 avenue Bauer, 502-938-MAMA, mommasbbq.com, Current services: on site and to take away; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day

How are you? How is your team?

Chad Cooley: My team is doing very well. Everyone seems happy to be back to work. I know it has been very difficult for our associates who have dependent children, but we have all adjusted as best we can. I can certainly say that the attitudes have been excellent and that I am more impressed with our people than before. They continue to impress me and I am grateful to have them on our team.

Did you offer take out / delivery before the dining rooms were allowed to reopen? Have you reopened for in-person meals? How have these experiences been for you and your team?

Cooley: We did a lot of carry before the pandemic, around 30%. Today about half of our business is done and we’re almost ready to start delivery through third-party delivery services like Uber Eats, Grub Hub, Postmates, and Door Dash.

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Has the response to the delivery / delivery and / or in-person dinner been better or worse than you expected? Will you continue to do so in the future?

Cooley: We expect to be live in the next few weeks with delivery, and we think barbecue is the perfect food for these platforms. We still have in-store meals, but capacity restrictions absolutely killed us at the Hurstbourne site.

How have the capacity restrictions affected you and your team?

Cooley: Fortunately, our location in St. Matthews (102 Bauer Ave.) has a large deck and patio, plus plenty of indoor seating, so that wasn’t much of a problem there. .

What is your most requested dish since the start of the pandemic? Has that changed since before the pandemic?

Cooley: Our most requested dish is, was and always will be our best wings. Voted Louisville’s Best Wings by LEO Magazine readers every year since 2016, they are the ultimate comfort food and our flagship product. We also saw a big boost in our donut bread pudding with ice cream and bourbon caramel sauce.

Do you have anything special for the Kentucky Derby?

Cooley: For the Derby, we expect plenty of house parties this year – so we expect our catering and delivery business to be busier than ever.

What do you hope the Louisville community will take away from this experience with regard to the restaurant industry?

Cooley: I hope that as a community we will continue to support local businesses. … this is where we go for this dish that seems to improve everything. All of these things seem so much more precious now, and I hope the appreciation for all of the great restaurants we have only grows from here.

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Mark’s grocery store

1514, chemin Bardstown, 502-458-1570, brandsfeedstore.com, Current services: on site, take away and delivery; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

How are you? How is your team?

Marie Stebbins: We are doing very good. Everyone remains positive and optimistic despite the circumstances. We are always “Friendly Folks serving a famous bar-BQ”.

Did you offer take out / delivery before the dining rooms were allowed to reopen? Have you reopened for in-person meals? How have these experiences been for you and your team?

Stebbins: Yes, we offered take out, curbside and delivery, and reopened for in-person meals. We had to figure this out as we went along to provide great customer service in a different way.

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Has the response to the delivery / delivery and / or in-person dinner been better or worse than you expected? Will you continue to do so in the future?

Stebbins: It was better than expected, and we are happy to continue these offers for our customers.

How have the capacity restrictions affected you and your team?

Stebbins: This has shifted our focus to take-out and providing alternatives when in-store catering is not possible.

What is your most requested dish since the start of the pandemic? Has that changed since before the pandemic?

Stebbins: Our Family meal offers (which includes pulled pork, red potato salad, baked beans and rolls) and our delicious baby back ribs flew out of the kitchen. The demand has increased.

Do you have anything special for the Kentucky Derby?

Stebbins: All of our picnic packages, which can feed 10 to 50 people, will be on display during the Derby weekend.

Read more: Louisville Asian fusion restaurants see light at end of tunnel amid pandemic

What do you hope the Louisville community will take away from this experience with regard to the restaurant industry?

Stebbins: That we will always do our best to provide services to our communities when they are needed.

Given the evolving nature of the coronavirus pandemic, the focus of our weekly restaurant column will change for the foreseeable future. Each week, Lennie Omalza will ask the same questions of three restaurants who are struggling to adapt and survive while serving our community. Please send your coverage suggestions to Lifestyle Editor Kathryn Gregory at [email protected].

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