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BBQ joints facing a one-two punch as meat shortages hit home

BBQ joints facing a one-two punch as meat shortages hit home

Wayne T. Lewis
Photo by Collins Laatsch

As if fighting through a global pandemic wasn’t enough, your favorite BBQ joints are now dealing with a fresh, new challenge. For them, access to high quality cuts of meat is as “essential” as wearing a mask in a crowded room of people these days.

Coronavirus outbreaks in meat processing facilities nationwide have thrown portions of the food chain into disarray. The effect is ongoing price spikes and shortages that are hitting purveyors of beef especially hard.

For Max McGarity, owner of Smoked on High, this is just one more left hook thrown by 2020, which he shared in a Facebook post yesterday – warning customers of very limited quantities of brisket and pork ribs.

We’re having problems getting fresh product. We don’t do frozen, we do all fresh certified Angus brisket. And then the price has almost doubled for beef products, which has been really difficult.”

Despite the price spike, McGarity says they are eating the increase and have not raised the price to customers. Brisket by the pound is still going to be $18 and brisket for a sandwich is still going to be $9. But again, we are doing smaller quantities and it’s going to be gone quick,” he said.

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McGarity says they plan to begin offering new proteins on the menu beginning next week including some sausages and smoked turkey.

Before the meat shortage, he says the business was finding success making it through the economic challenges caused by the pandemic.

“We were already a quick-service style restaurant. So we had our take-out and pick-up delivery systems already set in place. We’ve been doing it for a few years now. We’ve kind of bunkered down in our little nook in the Brewery District and have made it very safe for our employees to keep working and to keep cranking out good smoked barbecue,” he said.

Despite losing a Spring’s worth of catering business and eating the higher costs of his main ingredients, business goes on. We’re just going to keep trying to evolve and change and do the best we can to roll with the punches,” said McGarity.

Legacy Smokehouse in Hilliard, known for their Texas-style brisket is facing the same challenges, communicating with their customers through Facebook posts as well.

By the way, May is National BBQ month but it may be turning into National ‘We’ve-run-out-of-BBQ’ month if this trend persists. And it will, according to meat industry experts who say they expect it to last for the next four to six weeks, minimum.

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