After seeing this papering the telephone poles of San Pedro, I had to visit this totally new business. Had to. Just the phrase “Fresh Never Frozen” was interesting enough. We live on an island…in the tropics. Every meat that I have encountered, even most of the lobster or conch right from the sea but CERTAINLY the beef and pork, is frozen.
How is this new owner going to make this happen? Well? Best way to find out is to ask. And while some people are reluctant to share secrets and their ideas…Chris Burk, the owner of the brand new business, Texas BBQ & Steakhouse, is not the least bit shy. Burk “rhymes with Work” is just a self-described “poor boy from East Texas”. He’s also a super fun guy to talk to.
Here he is showing me a beef rib. Yabba dabba do.
I was meeting friends at high noon (you don’t mind if I throw in my New Jersey verison of Texas flare, do you?) but arrived a bit early to ask a few questions. And get the lay of the land.
Texas BBQ is located right next door to Pedro’s Inn, just south of town. A maybe 10 minute walk…15…from the town center. There is no sign yet…but that is coming.
There’s a large, impressive looking smoker on the front porch. I was there early and it wasn’t fired up yet (with hardwoods and coconut husks) and wouldn’t be for another hour or so. Chris, with a shrug, volunteered that his pitmaster called in with a hangover.
Low and slow. The delicious brisket is done at 185 degrees.
Inside, the place is set up cafeteria style.
There is going to be a big finger pointing you to the beginning of the chow line.
Chris plans on doing volume. Getting 2 people served and charged under 5 minutes. “Bringing a bit of Sam Walton to Belize”. If he said it once, he said it 20 times. It’s all about volume.
And the huge refrigerators filled with meat (he ordered 1200lbs FRESH) and milk. Lots of milk.
I forgot to ask but I hope there is a generator back up system…half a ton of fresh beef. Oh…that makes me nervous.
Much of the meat, and all of the beef, comes from the Reinland Mennonites in Orange Walk, Belize. They raise (and have raised for centuries) black angus cattle. They’ve been doing it in Belize since the 1950s and 60s.
The beef is packed fresh in cryo-vac packages where it can continue to age for 17-21 days in the refrigerator. Aging and reaching the “Prime” beef status
After the 21 days? You can imagine that Chris is going to be having a huge barbecue sale or maybe an all you can eat buffet.
The food. Chopped pork and brisket are going to be the mainstays on the menu. Always available for lunch and dinner. Either by sandwich or hot plate. By size. I ordered the 1/3 lb pork hot plate.
Other meats will be added or be specials for the day. Like goat. Or turkey.
The meat is dry rubbed and delicious on its own. But the sweet tomato based sauce is great too. For sides you could choose veggies, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, beans, potato salad, corn and a few more.
The plates ranged from $12 to $17bzd. And I didn’t need to eat anything else for the rest of the day. Chris says he is not pricing it for tourists…he’s pricing it for the local “working man”. Volume will make it affordable.
Ideas? He has so many new ideas for Belize. And he’ll tell you that he is not inventing new concepts…just using ones that work for others.
Like the fresh meat. He works directly with the distributors in Orange Walk. Give them a call? And they’ll send the cowboys out to do some roping. Literally.
Like a $1bzd endless glass of sweet tea. (Good though…not TOO sweet.) As long as you have one of his cups in your hand, you can drink until your bladder is content.
Like breakfast. Like Italian and Czech nights. Like call an hour ahead of time and order a steak…a t-bone, a strip, tell him the size? He’ll give you the price and the pick-up time.
Like cobblers and pastries. Like Blue Bell Ice Cream. And being a local distributor for it. Like his excess ice (from his ice machine) sold for $1 for 10lbs.
Fresh steak. Never frozen. He POUNDED on the meat packs in front of me to show me that it is not frozen and to scare the bejeezus out of me.
Red blood. Red because it’s fresh.
Chris also has story upon story to tell. From how he leased this place at the end of May/beginning of June of this year on his first one week visit ever. How his first choice of spots to open his Texas BBQ vision was in Yalta. Yes. The Crimea. Russia. And then the political climate…changed.
Belize was his second choice.
He tells many of the stories while chugging from a 1/2 gallon jug of milk. Seriously.
You can poke holes in his concepts all you want, you can say that this will never work in Belize but there are two things that are certain to me. One, the most important, this is very tasty, very affordable food. And two, this guy’s got enthusiasm…and wants to get this done the way he wants it.
So, I suggest you stop in and try the food. Fast, tasty, wildly filling, cheap lunch? You are going to want to get some Texas BBQ and Steakhouse.