Folks with a passion for barbecue want nothing more than to share that passion — along with some smoked meats.That's exactly what Tony Roberts and Dan Casey, two friends who have been cooking together on the competitive barbecue circuit for years, plan to do. The two will open Proud Souls Barbecue & Provisions at 2485 Federal Boulevard next month, adding an outdoor-cooking supply shop and barbecue-catering company where a tire shop once stood.
Roberts and Casey compete under the Proud Souls team name and have slowly built a reputation among friends, family and fellow competitors for their brisket and other smoked meats. At this year's Montana BBQ Cook-Off, they took home the award for best brisket and placed sixth overall out of 35 teams from the Rocky Mountain region. At their new shop, which is scheduled to open on October 10, they'll share their knowledge and enthusiasm while selling home barbecue equipment, seasonings and meats and providing classes and catering for parties and special events.
"We're going to be sourcing some regional sauces and rubs," Roberts says, adding that the store will also sell charcoal, wood sourced from the country's top barbecue region and pellets for pellet smokers. Proud Souls will stock pellet smokers, as well as PK grills, offset barrel smokers and ceramic models; the partners will also offer advice on which cooking methods and cuts of meat work best with each style of cooker. And while Proud Souls won't be an actual barbecue restaurant, Roberts and Casey will be running regular cooking demonstrations on the back patio to showcase their stock and technique. Their preferred piece of equipment is a custom-made, twin fifty-gallon, reverse-flow offset barrel smoker, which is what they'll be firing up for the catering side of the business.
"We kind of equate it to an old-school barber shop, where you can come in for a $4 jar of spice rub and hang out for an hour just talking barbecue," Casey explains.
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Classes will range from beginning lessons for those just getting into smoking to advanced courses for those who want to delve more into the science and nitty-gritty details of the interaction between smoke, heat and meat. And after a lesson, you'll be able to purchase fresh cuts of quality meats from Colorado farmers to take home so that you can practice what you've learned.
Roberts and Casey met in college at the University of Illinois, and they've been smoking together ever since. They're also friends, through the competitive barbecue circuit, with Jason Ganahl, who runs GQue Championship Barbecue at 5160 120th Avenue in Westminster. They considered going the same route as Ganahl and opening a full-fledged restaurant, but early in the planning process they decided they'd rather share their knowledge with other home barbecuers than dive into the rapidly growing Denver restaurant scene.
And because of the location of their new shop, they're looking into manufacturing their own line of cookers. "One thing we're working on, since this is kind of an urban environment, is a small-footprint smoker," Roberts explains. It will be perfect for barbecue enthusiasts who rent or live on small properties in central Denver and may not have the space or money to invest in larger cookers.
Look for the smoke signals on Federal Boulevard just across West 25th Avenue from Santiago's Mexican Restaurant starting in early October. With a full catering kitchen, supplies displayed on repurposed tire racks and a whole lot of barbecue wisdom to share, Proud Souls will be ready for you.