BBQ business gets around Port Orchard
June 12, 2008 · Updated 1:21 PM
"For residents who attend the weekly Port Orchard Farmer's Market, the name Grillside Mobile BBQ might have a familiar ring to it. The business, described as an on-site cooking venture, will provide delectables for the 12th annual Chris-Craft Rendezvous, held July 19-22 at the Port Orchard Marina.Being a part of the Saturday Farmer's Market hot foods section has made Grillside Mobile BBQ a recognizable facet of the community, according to owner Ken Brown.Me? I don't even have a name anymore, said Brown. I'm just the BBQ guy.Brown began Grillside Mobile BBQ eight years ago, but has been in the restaurant business for 12 years, including a previous venture in Bremerton called Mom's Kitchen.You've got to draw from your experience and learn from that, Brown said of the lack of success from Mom's Kitchen. (With Grillside) we're looking for something nobody else had. You see it right as it's cooking, and it always tastes good if you eat it fresh off the grill.Highlights of the menu include beef brisket (a No. 1 item, says Brown, that is smoked for 16 hours and falls right off the bone), ribs (both country and traditional style), chicken (with or without bones), hot links, bratwurst, and collard greens. There's not much barbecue here in the Northwest, said Brown. My mom taught me how to cook when I was just a little guy.Brown, who works at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard during the week, considers this side business to be a total family effort.What I enjoy doing is barbecuing, said Brown. I wanted to be around my kids more often - they can have my weekend.Brown describes his wife Elizabeth as the brain (She's really the one that makes it fly, he said), himself as the muscle, and their four children as the ligaments that help make up the team of Grillside Mobile BBQ.Anybody can get their family involved, said Brown. I say, let's all pitch in, make money, and spend the day together. Any family can use the formula, and it keeps the family nice and tight.Additional workers come from the help of numerous relatives and neighborhood kids, who are given more education than tangible reward for their assistance.It lets us teach (them) what we know about food, said Brown. I'm not an employer, I'm a teacher. They learn about taking orders, counting back change, cleaning up, handling food and dealing with people.The equipment Grillside Mobile BBQ uses, including a huge compact grill, a generator, tables, pots, pans, and storage bins, is toted around in an old Gai's Bakery bread truck.It's all compact, said Brown. It gives us everything we need out there.The truck provides quick set-up, room for cooking, and easy cleanup for the business, which Ken Brown hopes will expand into a drive-thru restaurant. We've been working with Jamie A. Powell of Prudential Northwest Real Estate out of Belfair to help us set up and push us into the right direction, said Brown, who mentioned the possibility of blues and jazz music being piped in. It's been in my dreams. I'll go out on a limb and say we will probably have a location and start building by the end of the year.Grillside Mobile BBQ is available for parties of all types, and has business cards and flyers at customer disposal. Although Brown has barbecued many times, he still experiences some nervousness about his work.It's a show, he said. It's not just barbecue, it's the whole setup. (The Chris-Craft show) is like a Broadway production to us. That should be a really good one.The Port Orchard resident believes that his neighbors have helped to contribute to the success of his business.The community of Port Orchard are the people that really make it go, said Brown. Our clientele - they're always there. It's just growing bigger and bigger. "