By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Nov 09, 2022 at 6:15 PM

Fans of Iron Grate BBQ Co., 4125 S. Howell Ave., have just eight more opportunities to get their fill of slow-smoked meats and sides and bid farewell to a concept which helped to shape the scene for Milwaukee BBQ.

Owner and chef Aaron Patin announced the closure this afternoon via email, noting that the final day of service for the restaurant will be Nov. 20. 

Iron Grate will be open for online and walk-up orders Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Nov. 20.

Truly Grate BBQ

Patin, who debuted Iron Grate in 2016, started off smoking meats with his smoker "Edna" in the back portion of Hawthorne Coffee Roasters, eventually moving the business just down the street into a former Boy Blue ice cream stand, where he added a small dining room and outdoor patio.

Patin's food spoke for itself. Scratch-made sides included memorable signatures like smoked tomato mac & cheese, coleslaw made with smoked apple cider vinegar and ultra-creamy grits. Patin's "Milwaukee Rib" -- a meaty bone-in portion of succulent spare rib with pork belly attached – gave the otherwise Texas-inspired BBQ business a flavor of its own.  

Milwaukee RibX

As the years passed, his dedication to the art and science of BBQ – and his commitment to responsibly sourced meats and overall quality – earned Iron Grate a loyal customer base.  

His empowering employment model earned him a loyal, dedicated staff, and his chef's mind pushed him to explore the boundaries of the genre through creative specials, BBQ collaborations and the launch of an Iron Grate food truck. 

Hickory butter shrimpX

"Iron Grate grew beyond everything I had dreamed," Patin wrote in the email. "Cooking and sharing with everyone has been the utmost rewarding experience."

The heartfelt note included thanks to the many dedicated employees who contributed to the growth of the restaurant concept over the years, as well as customers for their support for the neighborhood BBQ spot.

The email concluded with the following – an excerpted passage from Marie-Antione Careme – which speaks to both Patin's dedication and his decision to close.

"Imagine a large kitchen at the moment of a great dinner. See twenty chefs coming and going in a cauldron of heat. Picture a great mass of charcoal, a cubic meter in size, for the cooking of entrees and yet another mass for the making of soups and ragouts and yet another for frying and for the water baths.

"Add to the heap of burning wood for four spits, each on turning, one bearing sirloin weighing thirty five to forty five pounds and another two for the fowl and the game. 

"In this furnace, everyone moves with speed; not a sound is heard; only the Chef has a right to speak and at the sound of my voice everyone obeys.

"Finally, the last star, all the windows are closed so that the air does not cool the dishes as they are being served. 

Thus, we spend the best years our lives. We must obey even when our strength fails us.  Does it matter?  The shorter the life, the greater the glory."      

– Marie-Antione Careme 1833

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.