Cincinnati’s newest food truck is serving up Southern BBQ. Read on to savor their sweet story, including the family recipe with a tasty twist that got it all going.
Cincy Chic: Tell us more about Sweets & Meats BBQ!
Kristen Bailey, Owner of Sweets & Meats BBQ: Sweets & Meats BBQ is a licensed and insured caterer and mobile BBQ vendor, specializing in smoked meats, homemade sides and desserts. Presently, we offer full service and drop off catering for groups with 20 or more people and are in the process of building a food truck. We’ll take delivery on our brand new, custom BBQ Trailer during the middle of February and have plans to be on the road by March 1, 2016. For the past 14 months we have been operating out of our commissary in Anderson Township, in addition to having a tent set up at events. Although we’ll continue to have our commissary, we’re upgrading our tent for a beautiful trailer with the hopes of securing larger opportunities and recognition from the Cincinnati Food Truck community.
Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind the business?
Bailey: My partner and Sweets & Meats BBQ Chef, Anton Gaffney, and I have always loved hosting our friends and family at our own backyard BBQ. Sometimes we’d have upwards of 50 people attend our cookouts. There is no better way to break bread than over a good meal and we enjoyed bringing everyone together. The cookouts were costly (we were providing almost everything) and we were constantly being told how good all of the food was and encouraged to open a restaurant. Initially, we just thought everyone was being nice. Who is going to complain about free food, we thought.
However, in July 2014, we had the distinct pleasure of catering Anton’s grandfather’s 75th birthday party in Sylacauga, AL. Anton had learned how to smoke meat from his grandfather, Joe Gaffney, at an early age. Joe made his own smoker using a stainless steel drum. Anton, who had been developing his skill set over the past several years in Cincinnati, put his own spin on what his grandfather had taught him. Anton makes his own rub and sauce, using a family recipe with a few minor changes. Anton cooked st. louis style ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, hamburgers, sausages, and all the homemade sides your heart desired. His grandmother took care of the desserts. His grandfather was so impressed and I could see how much it meant to Anton. He was “at home” using his grandfather’s custom built BBQ pit and I always knew it was the one thing he’s always been passionate about.
As the encouragement continued to pour in from folks who believed we had something special, I was inspired to attend workshops offered through SCORE Cincinnati, the SBDC at the Clermont Chamber, and Unpolished at Crossroads Oakley. I registered our business in September and later that month, I ordered a custom built smoker for Anton’s 40th birthday from Alabama. He had no idea what I was up to and he later learned that I’d created our business through all of our endless conversations about pursuing our dream of opening a BBQ restaurant. He was ecstatic when our smoker was delivered just a couple days before Halloween in 2014. We took a conservative approach and passed out flyers to our neighbors with halloween candy, announcing that we would be setting up in the parking lot at the local Mt.Washington Creamy Whip. We set up at the Creamy Whip on weekends and gradually moved into the event space, vending at local food truck rallies, festivals and community events.
Cincy Chic: Who’s involved in running the business?
Bailey: It’s a family affair. I own the business and am joined by our Chef, Anton Gaffney and my mother, Michelle Bailey. We have interns, Derek, Ben, and AV from Cincinnati Job Corps and a number of friends and family members have helped out during our first year in business. As a start up, we’ve been bootstrapping and very blessed to have people who have been willing to lend a hand when we needed them.
Cincy Chic: What type of BBQ are you serving up over at Sweets & Meats?
Bailey: Southern BBQ. We are known for our ribs and brisket, but we have a pretty extensive menu including ribs, brisket, pulled pork, pork rib tips, pulled chicken, chicken drumsticks, chicken quarters, bacon wrapped pork loin, the loaded BBQ potato, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, collard greens, green beans, baked beans, potato salad, zesty coleslaw, sweet cornbread, banana pudding, peach cobbler and more.
Cincy Chic: Where is Sweets & Meats located?
Bailey: Our commissary is located at the Patriot Center of Cincinnati (6660 Clough Pike Cincinnati, OH 45244) in Anderson Township. We live in Mt, Washington and are trying to stay on the east side long term. With the addition of the food truck, we’ll be able to go virtually anywhere in Greater Cincinnati. Currently, we are only offering catering until March 1st, but we plan to extend our hours.
Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon for you guys?
Bailey: We just graduated from the MORTAR business accelerator program and have applied to Bad Girl Ventures for their entrepreneurial class which begins in February 2016. We are in the process of building a 25 ft. BBQ Trailer and have a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Southern Dimensions is building our trailer and we have plans to pick it up in mid-February in order to bring our Southern BBQ on the road by March 1. Our long term goal is to open a brick and mortar on the east side of Cincinnati.
Right now, we are mainly focused on getting the word out about Sweets & Meats BBQ, putting our trailer on the road, and booking catering and events. Food truck season begins in March and we want to be ready! Please keep us in mind for any upcoming opportunities.
Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more?
Bailey: We encourage readers to follow us on social media. We are in the process of revamping our website, but you can stay current by visiting us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We also post our whereabouts on streetfoodfinder.com which is an app that you can download. You can also learn more on our Indiegogo campaign.