DB’s Smokin’ BBQ Expanding to DuBois
Doug Bauer, of DB’s Smokin’ BBQ, is bringing his lessons learned from operating DB’s Smokin’ BBQ in Lucinda and settling a new location among the dinosaurs in DuBois.
“I initially started up my location in Lucinda eight years ago,” Bauer said. “It’s been a long eight years. I’ve since made the top 30 barbeque restaurants in the nation for the past six or seven years. We’ve been successful even through COVID. Last year was a pretty good year.”
The location in Lucinda is called “The Shack.” The new one will be “Bedrock.” Bedrock will have much of the same menu as Lucinda.
“We have a lot of success in the catering business and in the middle of Lucinda,” Bauer said. “The atmosphere of our location in Lucinda is one of the special aspects of our barbeque. We’re in the middle of a cornfield, and we have live concerts. That Lucinda Shack will supply the sauces and mac-and-cheese for this site. This will be our premier site.”
A new serving window is on its way, the smoker is being craned into place, and the walk-in cooler will be installed on the other side of the building. All of the equipment is brand new and ready to be installed. A sign will be placed on one of the tall railroad crossing signals near the red building marked “East Station” at Doolittle’s. All the new equipment, however, will not change Bauer’s focus.
“I stick with barbeque,” Bauer said. “Most restaurants will try to add different sandwiches for different people, but I have been surviving on barbeque. I cook barbeque for everybody. It has to pass my flavor test, and I think my palate is close to what everybody wants. I want people to enjoy the meal. The barbeque sauce is part of it; it’s like seasoning. You don’t want to over-smoke your food, or you’ll give people heartburn. I try to keep my smoke just as a flavoring. My spices are not overbearing. You know you’re eating authentic barbeque.”
Bauer’s palate has been expanded by traveling the country and living in the heart of the barbeque world.
“I used to live in Texas,” Bauer said. “I moved to Texas in 1981 and was down there quite a while. I started barbequing with my dad when I was 14, and he would spin chickens. I went to Texas, ate at a couple of places, and thought, ‘Wow! This is what barbeque is!’”
Bauer said he has been at many of the barbeque restaurants in the area and appreciates what they offer.
“They all have their following, and that’s fine,” he said. “I appreciate someone who’s honest saying they like certain barbeque. I don’t want to take people away from their favorite place, but I want to give options. Barbeque is something you have to do with an open mind. You have to listen to your customers. If they don’t like it the way you’re doing it, then change. If you’re losing money and sales are down, it’s not the customers; it’s you.”
Bauer makes his own sauce. His belief is that the flavors need to enhance the meat, so he has separate rubs for different meats instead of a one-rub-fits-all method.
“I don’t just have Texas; I have flavors of the south in my sauce,” he said. “I have the Carolinas, St. Louis, Texas – it’s all my sauce, but I blend it in to make it taste like those places.”
Bauer goes to shows and has found success there. At the National Barbeque Society Convention, he was one of the winners for beef ribs. At the last one, he got selected to demonstrate his skills. Those skills did not magically appear between cooking with his father and tasting Texas barbecue. He worked on his craft.
“I’ve always been in and out of barbeque,” he said. “I had a concession stand at one time, and that wasn’t doing barbeque well. People loved it, but I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be. I had a chance to rent an old produce stand in Lucinda. The floors were caving in, but it had a cooler in it. We went in there, tore everything down, and set it up for serving. I had several key people to help me do that, and it was fun.”
Bedrock may be brand new, but it is an outgrowth of The Shack, which Bauer said is an authentic barbecue location where you can see through the cracks in the walls. Here, he wants to use the space differently. In Lucinda, he had a cooler inside the building. In DuBois, he put the cooler outside the building. He wants his cooks to have a place to move around and have fun while working.
“I also take care of my meats,” he added. “I constantly monitor the temperature, keeping it above food safety levels. But I don’t want it to get too high above that because it takes flavors out of your meats. I’m not in the business to make junk.”
Avoiding junk also means that he has to focus on the meat he buys. Since his sauce compliments the meat instead of masks flavor, Bauer is careful about what he buys.
“I buy premium cuts of meat – choice or better meats,” he said. “I trim my meats and start out with something good. When you do a brisket right, you lose about half of what you paid for through trimming, seasoning, and cooking. That’s why barbeque isn’t like buying a dollar hamburger of a value menu.”
Bedrock will open sometime between the third and fourth weeks of April. Baer plans on holding a grand opening for the Fourth of July.
“You have to love people and make the customer happy,” he said. “That’s why we’re here.”
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