Holding BBQ - is it wrong?

Joined Jun 20, 2016
The owners of the bar I work at want to make a change to more BBQ style food. While I'm fine with this my only concern is with the concept that a BBQ place should be serving fresh everyday. We're a bar and don't pump out food on a regular basis to justify smoking/braising/grilling whole cuts everyday.

So my question is this: Is it wrong to prepare big portions and hold them in either the walk-in or even freeze them?
Joined Aug 7, 2013
It may be wise to not use whole cuts daily. Maybe halve the cuts and go with that, keep the raw refrigerated, and monitor the demand.

Being that it's a new concept and the people might be initially receptive, you may want to do whole cuts, just in case. If the demand isn't high, the hit will be initial, just adjust to smaller quantities.

New business adventures are fraught with uncertainty. Just keep an eye on the demand.

Being that it's a bar and not a fine dining place, leftovers shouldn't be a problem (even though I'm sure that leftovers have been served at all levels). Just make sure to obey danger zone guidelines and brush up on some recipes for the leftovers.

The Poor Gourmand of San Antonio
Joined Nov 2, 2013
You could always change the menu. One of my favourite things to bbq are braised meats. I braise it. And after that I portion it and bbq just what I need.

Or just buy smaller cuts that dont need to cook for long. Last week I barbequed tomahawk pork chops. They look great on a plate taste good and are reasonably priced. So everything I look for in meat.

I get meat twice a week and I almost never have any leftovers.
Joined Jun 23, 2015

Please give your definition of BBQ.  Smoked meats lose a lot of quality when refrigerated and reheated.  I and many others separate the term BBQ and grilled.  Adding a sauce to a meat does not make it BBQ. 
Joined Jun 20, 2016
Sorry for the long wait for a reply, been busy. BBQ to me is slow cooked either smoked or pit. I'm smoking. The thing I'm worried about is getting a reputation for half-assing BBQ. I live in just a small enough community that I don't want to ruin my face reputation.

My issue is that I refuse to buy in what I can make in house(with exceptions). Which means a lot of prep hours. I don't make our buns or certain dinky apps(mozz sticks, jalapeño poppers, ect.) but everything else is house made. Adding more of a smoking schedule will wreck me both mentally and physically. I just want to know the cooking communities feelings if it's wrong to do big batches and freeze. It's the most cost/sanity effective way for us.
Joined Jun 23, 2016
How many heads do you feed ?
I might have missed if you said how you were smoking them, wood pit, coal mix, pellet, electric,
Joined Jun 23, 2015
Glad to hear you are smoking your product.  Many places cook larger batches and refrigerate or freeze.  I am very picky and feel that this reduces the quality of the smoked meat.  Fresh off the pit is a lot better than reheated leftovers.  The left overs have a watery texture and taste or can be dried out.  Some places mix sauce with the reheats.  I always order sauce on the side, if that is not available I go some where else, When I smoke meat I do have leftovers and it's just not as good days afterward.

Would the owners spring for a smoker that you could leave for a long period of time?  A pellet smoker?  Would they be willing to tend the BBQ so you don't have to go crazy?  I know of some places that feature BBQ once or twice a week.

"BBQ to me is slow cooked either smoked or pit. I'm smoking. The thing I'm worried about is getting a reputation for half-assing BBQ. I live in just a small enough community that I don't want to ruin my face reputation."

Unless your getting huge dollars don't ruin you reputation. 


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I agree with what Jimyra says about losing quality when storing and reheating "real" BBQ.  Of course, the majority of your clientele won't have a clue as most of the places they probably eat at do it all the time.  The problem arises because you will also attract those that know, and are serious, about BBQ and they will know the difference between fresh and reheated BBQ and this vocal minority could certainly ruin your reputation, making it known that you serve second rate BBQ.  Where are you at?  The reason I ask, is that I have found, in my many travels and lives, that people down South are much more tolerant of BBQ places running out of meat than those up North, were the expectation is that if you are open you have everything on your menu ready to go.  If it were me, I'd follow the lead of those Southern places.  Make what you think you can sell out that day and when you are out, you are out.  It may be hard in the beginning as you may not be producing that much, but if your BBQ is good, and fresh, it won't take long for you to get a reputation and next thing you know, you will be killing it.

But even then you can expect some leftovers.  Just find a way to repurpose them.  I find that I am much more tolerant of reheated BBQ that isn't served to me as you would fresh BBQ.  That means I am more tolerant of the pulled pork in  a sandwich than I am of a pile of it sitting on my plate.  In the first instance, because it is probably mixed with sauce I find it acceptable for it to be reheated, but if I order a plate of pulled pork it had better be fresh!  Same with ribs.  If I order a rack, it had better be fresh, but if you are using BBQ'd rib meat to top a baked potato I'm good with reheated stuff, although fresh is always better.  Hopefully you get my point.
Joined Aug 2, 2014
I have had the great opportunity to work with some of the top BBQ places in the country.  If you are wanting to learn more about the craft and business side of BBQ the National Barbecue Association  NBBQA is a great group of people that share and teach ideas.  In my humble experience, with BBQ the one major thing I tell everyone, is no matter what you do "you're doing it wrong".  I don't care how good you are, someone will be happy to tell you that your BBQ is wrong.  All of the small differences, from what wood to use, how large of sticks, chunks, or chips you use, the sauce, the rub, it doesn't end.

I see three common ways of serving the Q'. 1) using moisture based bulk heated holding, the BBQ holds for a very long period of time. 2) wrapped and held in the pit until it is cut to order.  3) for large operations, Chilled and rethermed in batches to keep up with demand throughout a long day.
Joined Jun 23, 2015
"But even then you can expect some leftovers.  Just find a way to repurpose them.  I find that I am much more tolerant of reheated BBQ that isn't served to me as you would fresh BBQ"

I like to mix leftover pulled pork with the leftover pinto beans I serve with the first serving.  I mix in a little vinegar based sauce and it is acceptable.  It can also be used in a "Brunswick" stew.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
This is why it's easier to get a better quality food out of a large volume operation. They have BBQ coming out of the smoker every morning and serve that day. IMHO, I would set my sites on trying to build my business with great BBQ than try to chug along doing it half assed. You say you are mostly a scratch kitchen. If your doing most of the items in the kitchen scratch then why would you take the main entree and not make it the most important part of your day. If I had a steak house you wouldn't make the baked potato the biggest worry of your day. I can't see how anyone can not make the main entree the king of the menu. Free yourself up to do the BBQ daily. Be proud of the main product you are building your business around. What I'm saying may not be popular but I know if your BBQ isn't a class act people aren't going to stand in line for your cole slaw and baked beans. Think of whats important to the success of your operation. I'm not buying the fact you don't have time to make the main item in your operation the best it can be..........Chef Bill

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