By Ben Rodgers
ASHWAUBENON – T. Bacon’s BBQ Resturant and Catering is nearly ready to open its new location, but those living nearby may have already gotten a whiff of what lies in store.
The BBQ joint that smokes all meats in-house has moved to the corner of Holmgren Way and Borvan Avenue in the former Skip’s Diner site.
It was formerly located on Packerland Drive inside an Oneida One Stop casino/gas station.
“We got a lot of complaints about the cigarette smoke in the casino,” said Tom Bacon, general manager and co-owner with his wife Jennifer Bacon, who does the behind-the-scenes work. “Also, everybody thinks we were way out the country out there on Packerland, so they’d rather go to Olive Garden and wait an hour for a table then drive an extra 3 minutes, and we want to be more centrally located. We got residential neighborhoods all around us right here. A lot of my friends will have no excuse not to come.”
Along with being close to residential neighborhoods, the new location is in the shadow of Lambeau Field, down the block from Capitol Credit Union Park and a stone’s throw from the Resch Center.
Bacon said it’s too early to know exactly what will happen when sports resume, but he said any hungry fans would be wise to follow their noses.
“They’re going to expect some smoke in the air and some good BBQ for passersby,” he said.
Bacon said the process of cooking great BBQ is based on different factors.
“We make everything from scratch all the way down to my Creole seasoning for our jambalaya,” he said. “One thing we do that I guarantee you none of the other BBQ does, we inject our meats. We let them brine, we rub them down, put them on the smoker. Some of these other places all they do is open the meat, put on some rub and put in the smoker. We give it that extra love.”
With fresh meat brined and ready to go, Bacon said smoking is the next step.
Briskets and pork butts smoke for about 10 hours, ribs take 3 1/2 to 4 hours, chicken and turkey are ready in about 2 hours and it could all change due to how the smoker is acting, he said.
“We do everything to temperature, and we wrap everything, it retains moisture,” Bacon said. “Smoke can’t go into meat at 140 degrees. We smoke brisket and pork for 4 hours, then wrap it and put it back on. It depends on the meat, it can be 3 or 4 hours.”
The only propane the smoker sees is from the torch used to light a mix of oak and maple, he said, and there’s no gas or electric, either.
Once the meat is ready to be served, Bacon said it’s normally plated and brought to tables with five different sauces so people can pick a favorite.
Due to COVID-19, people will have to order the sauce they want on it from the kitchen.
Handmade sauces include Smokey Bacon, Flaming Pig, Sassy Mustard, Jen’s Sweet Inferno and Tom’s Sweet Reaper, made from Carolina Reaper peppers.
“There’s a formula,” said Bacon, who was selling sauces before his restaurant days. “You’d have to take one of my classes to figure out that formula. There’s your base, your sweet, your heat and your flavor.”
With quality smoked meat and a variety of sauces, he said T. Bacon’s also offers sandwiches that are less than conventional.
The Brisket Mega Grilled Cheese is a blend of four cheeses and smoked brisket. The Bella combines pulled pork, brisket, bacon and provolone, while the Triple Pig is aptly named with pulled pork, ham and bacon.
“If you’re looking for health food here, you’re not going to find too many options, except our coleslaw,” Bacon said.
He had a hard time picking his favorite dish, but he recommended the turkey, which recently took second place at a national Jennie-O competition, and what he called “meat candy” or burnt ends, which are a rare menu special.
“I always tell people to make sure you’re sitting down when you eat, because your knees are going to buckle,” Bacon said.
He also does catering for special events and recently put on a build-your-own mac and cheese buffet, but traditional offerings like brisket are also available.
Bacon said the plan is to open the new location next week, and limited delivery and takeout will be available.
For more information, including menu specials and videos, find T. Bacon’s BBQ Restaurant and Catering on Facebook or tbaconsbbqrestaurant.com.