The first of a series of new BBQ pop-ups is slated to take place on Friday, Sept. 18 from noon to 8 p.m. (or until sold out) at Point Burger Bar, 10950 Good Hope Rd.
The new BBQ concept is a collaboration between Point Burger Bar Operations Manager Jack Holt and Chef Jason Alston of Heaven’s Table BBQ and will showcase a menu inspired by Texas, Alabama and Memphis style barbeque.
The inaugural menu, which will be released next week on the Point Burger Bar website, will include a variety of smoked meats including brisket, chicken, pork shoulder and ribs along with sides like potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans and fries.
The pop-ups are the product of a series of conversations between Holt, Alston and Point Burger Bar owner Brian Ward, who made the decision to close the Burger Bar temporarily as of Aug. 8.
And, if all goes well, they could mark the beginnings for a new North Side restaurant concept.
A pivot that fuels a passion
Ward says that, despite years of success at the inaugural Point Burger Bar location, which opened in 2015, business has suffered immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It was tough from the start," he says, "Because we rely so heavily on lunch business. We made things work for the first few months, but as time passed, it became more and more evident that we needed to make a pivot and find a concept that would be more viable for carry-out."
"Ultimately," he says. "We decided that the best thing to do would be to play with a few ideas and see if we could move them forward."
Among the options he and Holt considered was barbeque; but, they knew they'd need to invest in the proper training to ensure a high quality product. But it took little more than a meal or two from Heaven’s Table BBQ at the Crossroads Collective, to convince them that Alston was the right person to consult on the project.
"What I loved about Jason is that he was really able to clearly explain his processes for smoking meat," says Holt, "From timing and temperatures to the textures you’re looking for… he’s also been a great help with taste testing and helping out with zero-ing in our recipes for side dishes."
Holtz, who grew up in the restaurant industry, says he’s been hoping to use his family recipes to bring a new concept to the North Side for some time now, notes that the pop-up menus will feature a rotating selection of his recipes.
"We want to see what people like," he says, "So that we better know how to move forward."
Alston says he was happy to take on the project, which he says has made good use of the skills he developed while teaching at MATC.
"I'm always happy to help people, especially right now," says Alston, noting that even established restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic. "But I'm also excited to participate in really moving the Milwaukee BBQ scene forward. To do that, we need more well-executed options."
Ward says he has hopes that the shift to more carry-out friendly food is a good move and that the concept is seen as a good addition to the neighborhood.
"Right now, we’re really dealing with all of the unknowns and trying to adapt," says Ward, noting that if the pop-ups take off as expected, he will support moving forward with a ghost kitchen for the BBQ concept (a kitchen that operates with online ordering, pick-up and delivery), and ultimately a rebrand of the restaurant location if the concept takes off.
How to get your BBQ
Pre-orders for the Sept. 18 pop-up can be placed starting next week. Details for call-in orders and curbside pick-up will be available at pointburgerbarmilwaukee.com.
More on Heaven's Table BBQ
Read more on Chef Jason Alston's forthcoming Heaven's Table BBQ restaurant in Uptown Crossing.
Listen to Chef Alston talk about the art of smoking meats on the FoodCrush podcast.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.