"I found it on Craigslist," he says of the Gypsy Q rig. "It was only a couple thousand dollars. The thing was awful, but at least it had good bones...so we gutted the entire thing."
Shankland was the executive chef at Hideaway Kitchen + Bar in Genesee until the restaurant closed in 2016 (before that he worked at Colt & Gray, Old Major and Parker Garage), and has been doing private parties and catering since then, while also working on perfecting his barbecue technique. He came up with the Gypsy Q concept during that time, taking a slightly different approach to barbecue.
"What I want to do is offer unique takes on traditional barbecue," the chef explains. "We'll sell meat by the half-pound with sides, or as three different sandwiches with a choice of meat and slaw, or as a banh mi. And we'll do a sandwich of the day on Instagram."
He also wants to differentiate himself with unique sides influenced by Southeast Asian cuisine, especially Vietnamese, Burmese and Thai: turmeric-poached cauliflower with tomatoes and eggplant, for example.
The Brighton Boulevard address will be a little hidden from traffic; Shankland is leasing space behind a row of garages so that he can maintain a semi-permanent location, but he'll occasionally make forays to local breweries, including the soon-to-open Aero Craft Brewing at West 38th Avenue and Tennyson Street. "The whole point is to have a backyard barbecue party every day," he says.
The property where he'll be hosting that party is slated for redevelopment, and Shankland hopes to convert Gypsy Q to a brick-and-mortar restaurant as one of the first tenants in new retail spaces that will be built on that site. Until then, though, Gypsy Q should be smoking. Shankland says the outfit will be up and running in mid-May (depending on when he can schedule his final inspection with the city) for lunch and dinner. Just look for rising smoke and a backyard party on Brighton Boulevard.