Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Keenan.
Brian, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m from South Carolina and grew up eating whole hog barbecue. I moved to Atlanta from Asheville, NC about 10 years ago and had trouble finding barbecue I was use to eating so I learned to cook it myself. A good friend of mine from Texas opened a barbecue restaurant in 2010 and it inspired me to learn even more about different styles of barbecue and I was hooked! I was in the wine and spirits business for 16 years and needed a change in my life, so I started Meating Street Barbecue Catering around the end of 2014 with the intent to present a “multi-regional” menu to people who love to travel and eat Barbecue, I’ve been all over the country eating barbecue and have met the most friendly and amazing people along the way and they’ve all been very generous with info about how they cook and how to survive in this difficult business. Meating Street offers a wide variety of barbecued meats including whole hog, prime beef brisket, hot guts sausage (sausage made with beef and pork from the 1800’s), pork ribs, and beef ribs, pulled pork, turkey, and chicken. We even offer tofu veggie skewers if someone’s vegetarian. All of our meats are cooked with 100% wood, lately I’m in love with Cherry. We don’t use charcoal, unless it’s for direct heat to grill something. None of our pits use gas or electricity, it’s all manual. I’m really old school like that, I listen to vinyl records, I write everything down, I keep a paper calendar, and I call people on the phone. As far as sides we keep it pretty basic, we make slaw, southern style potato salad, classic mac n cheese, and barbecue baked beans. Occasionally I’ll make something seasonal to offer just to break it up a bit. As a catering company, we’re mobile and travel all over the Southeast for events, but home is Roswell. I’ve lived here for 8 years and have loved it. It’s growing and there’s a great community here. The funny thing about Georgia is there’s no distinct style of barbecue, so you have to offer a little of everything for the masses. We get booked to cater any kind of event imaginable and it’s been awesome to meet so many people from all walks of life. We are currently looking for a brick and mortar location so we can offer daily service, I get calls all the time about where our restaurant is located, so I think it’s time to take that next step. In the meantime we’ll keep doing festivals and private events. My favorite part of all of it is serving the barbecue to our guests, we slice brisket to order, cut ribs to order, and pull pork for sandwiches on the spot. It makes all the work worth it to bring joy to people through my passion for cooking and it’s been the most gratifying job I’ve ever had.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Well, working for yourself has its positives and negatives as you can imagine. I had to learn to cook everything myself in the beginning through trial and error, and that gets expensive when you start a new business. Being your own boss means you have only yourself to answer to when things go well…., or not so well. Like the wine business, this is all about hospitality, relationships, and friendships. It’s second nature for me to go above and beyond for the customer no matter how small or large the job is. This business is dirty, hot, and hard but I love the challenges as well. That’s how we grow right?
Meating Street Barbecue – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We are a catering company specializing in all wood fired pit cooked barbecue and scratch made sides. I love all types of barbecue, but brisket is really popular right now because of the phenomenon that started in Austin a few years ago. We get requests for brisket more than pork and we’re in Georgia! We’re also known for our ribs and the sides we make, yes, sides matter! Barbecue is changing these days and you have to keep up. The idea that barbecue is “cheap” is long in the rear view mirror. People will gladly pay for a plate of higher quality barbecue and appreciate the work that goes into it. I’m proud of Meating Street because we can consistently put out a product of excellent quality every single time and that’s difficult…..and it’s your name on everything so you have to give 110% with every slice of meat and every scoop of potato salad. I think what sets us apart from other barbecue establishments is our traditional method of cooking with nothing but wood and offering the best quality meats I can find to barbecue. We also cover all the bases with our menu, so there’s something of high quality for everyone at the table. It’s good to be known for brisket, but the same passion goes into the ribs and chicken too and it shows.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I guess the proudest moment of my career was when my wife Joanna approved of my leaving the wine business and cooking full time. She’s always told me that if the food wasn’t that good, she’d have never let me do this!
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