Tag Archives: sandwiches

Fat BBQ Shack

July 1, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Barbecue is gaining in popularity. It has become so popular that Europeans now consider barbecue to be the cuisine of America. I am OK with that. Real barbecue does not come from that thing on your deck used to create char marks on steaks. Real barbecue refers to the culinary style that involves slowly cooking tough, inexpensive cuts of meat over hardwood charcoal until they become tender, smoky, and delicious.

FatShack1Barbecuing is not easy. It’s an art form, and good barbecue technique is something that takes people years to master. Fat BBQ Shack owner Cary Dunn has perfected his style of barbecue. The original Fat Shack started as a food truck and has since become a brick-and-mortar restaurant at 30th and Webber streets. It’s easy to figure out where the restaurant is in the Webber Place shopping center, since the line often stretches out the door.

The inside of the restaurant is nothing fancy, but it’s clean and serviceable. Most folks might refer to the place as a barbecue joint. It’s a small place that looks smaller because it is usually packed. Wood chairs surround lacquered wood tabletops. A roll of paper towels and two bottles of the Fat Shack’s housemade barbecue sauce top each table. You order at the counter from a well laid-out menu board. Then you can either take your barbecue to go or eat it there—if you can find a table.

The menu is quite extensive for a barbecue joint. The Fat Shack has a large selection of sandwiches, burgers, hand-breaded seafood, and, of course, smoked meat dinners with all the sides. The meats include brisket, pulled pork, ribs, rib tips, sausage, smoked turkey, and smoked half chickens. The sides include baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn on the cob, fresh-cut fries, fried okra, collard greens, and homemade potato chips.

On a recent visit, I braved the crowds and ordered a “Three Meat Dinner” ($14.99) which comes with two sides and choice of sliced bread or cornbread. I ordered brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. Brisket must be the chef’s specialty. It had a crisp black exterior, pink inner smoke ring, and a juicy, melt-in-your-mouth texture. It tastes incredible. The pulled pork is also good, but not on the same level as the brisket. The rib meat falls off the bones and tasted great, but I like ribs to stick on the bones a little more. For sides, I had the macaroni and cheese, and the collard greens. The macaroni and cheese is amazing—easily the best I know of in Omaha. The collard greens are also a real treat, perfectly seasoned and braised with smoky bacon. I also sampled the cornbread, which was hot, moist, and yummy.

FatShack3On another lunchtime visit, I tried the “Carolina Sandwich” ($7.99). This giant sandwich is piled high with moist smoked pork then topped with a vinaigrette pepper sauce and their crisp, creamy coleslaw. The combination is incredible, definitely a must-try. I also tried “The Shack Attack” ($8.99). This gluttonous dish is a giant mound of fresh-cut fries, nacho cheese sauce, choice of meat (I went with the brisket), barbecue sauce, shredded cheese, sour cream, ranch dressing, jalapeños, and chives. If this does not fill you up, nothing will. I have never enjoyed stuffing myself more than with this decadent and delicious pile of a meal.

If you’re getting the feeling that I like the Fat Shack, then you are right. The Fat Shack has moved itself to the No. 1 spot on my list of favorite barbecue joints, and that is really saying something. You owe it to yourself to go give it try.

FatShack2

Royal Rebrand

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Long before there were sandwiches hawked by Michael Phelps and Jared or commercials for subs being delivered at breakneck speed, Little King was building a product and brand featuring fresh meats and great taste right here in Omaha.

Now, more than 40 years after the original store opened at 80th and Dodge streets, the Omaha-originated sub shop is undergoing a facelift while remaining true to its longstanding reputation and roots for providing a consistently outstanding product.

“Little King has developed a new, fresh, and more contemporary look and feel,” says Jose Partida, vice president and chief franchising officer for the sub shops. “Our branding was dated and didn’t reflect the energy of today’s Little King. We believe our new branding offers us a solid foundation to compete with all of our competitors.”

From left: Nikhil Mehta, co-owner and president of Little King, with Bob Wertheim, Little King's COO.

From left: Nikhil Mehta, co-owner and president of Little King, with COO Bob Wertheim.

Partida says he and company president Nikhil Mehta—who bought the Little King brand and following from Chief Operating Officer Bob Wertheim, son of founder Sid Wertheim, in 2012—have been developing this new brand and positioning with local creative firm Webster Design Associates over the past 12 months. He admitted they are very proud and excited with the results and believe this is the right path for Little King’s future growth and success.

He added that Little King’s core values remain the same—to provide fresh, wholesome food at a great value and in an inviting dining environment.

“And, of course, they’ve kept our signature sandwich, the #11!” Partida says. “If you don’t know what that means, it is the Royal Treat. We continue to slice fresh meats and produce and bake fresh breads on a daily basis. Besides our new look, our customers will see only small changes in the Little King they have loved for over 40 years.”

Little King's location in Downtown Omaha at 508 S. 12th St.

Little King’s location in Downtown Omaha at 508 S. 12th St.

The current “branding rebirth” of Little King is described as the biggest evolution since the first store opened in 1969. While the company’s values have remained relatively unchanged over time, the brand continues to evolve.

The new brand and position are a departure from where the company was, but there is still a strong tangible, visual connection to the past. A testament to this is the recent reopening of the Little King restaurant in the first level of the new building on 12th and Howard streets—the location where one of the first Little Kings sat for more than four decades.

“‘Fresh Rules Here’ still speaks volumes about where we have come from and where we are headed,” Mehta says. “At one time, Little King had over 100 units in over 17 states. Our plans are to surpass those numbers in the next five to seven years.

“As a matter of fact, our 12th and Howard Street location is open again. It has undergone renovation to showcase our new corporate look and is now our flagship restaurant. We will be working with our current franchisees to convert to our new look over the next six to 12 months. Currently, we are looking at potential new sites throughout Omaha and Iowa.”

To learn more about the new and improved Little King brand, visit littlekingsubs.com or Little King’s Facebook page, or find them on Twitter (@LittleKingSubs).

Localmotive

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Localmotive has been serving up made-from-scratch sandwiches and sourdough rounders on the corner of 12th and Jackson since March 2012, meanwhile building a loyal clientele. And the local food truck isn’t afraid of a little competition—in fact, they want other food trucks to follow their lead into Downtown Omaha. “We’re not crowding trucks in,” says Patrick Favara, one of Localmotive’s three owners. “There’s totally room for more.”

Favara credited their truck’s successful first year in the Old Market to extensive research. “There’s very little here to look at,” he says, adding that food trucks are still a new concept to the Midwest. “And there’s not much in Nebraska’s books yet. If there’s a model to look at, it’s Kogi.” The five-truck fleet in Los Angeles communicates multiple times daily through Twitter, Facebook, and its own well-maintained website so that customers never have to wonder when or where a truck will be out.

From left: David Burr and Patrick Favara

From left: David Burr and Patrick Favara

The Localmotive crew tries to do the same thing. “Communication is essential,” Favara said. “It determines your following.” Even though the truck can be found next to Ted and Wally’s ice cream shop from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven nights a week, a schedule is always available on localmotivefoodtruck.com. Localmotive also has an office manager who stays on top of the truck’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. “We make that a priority,” Favara says. “We get back to the people who talk to us.”

You mean, it’s more than just Favara and David Burr in the truck and David Scott, sourdough king, in the kitchen? “You get a staff,” Burr says with emphasis. “You don’t do it all on your own.” Even with a peak staff of 18 employees during the summer, Burr recalls weeks at the beginning of their debut that included 120 hours of work. “Consistently,” he says, laughing. “…for months.”

The large staff is necessary, Favara explains, because unlike employees of a brick-and-mortar restaurant, truck workers can’t duck back to the kitchen to help with prep during slow times. “We staff as many people as a brick-and-mortar,” Favara says, “because they can’t do double-duty.”20121130_bs_6302 copy

Burr adds that while the upfront cost of a food truck is lower than opening a storefront, running a mobile restaurant has its own set of challenges with licensing, permissions, and maintenance. “It’s demanding work,” he says, “and not cheap. We’re a fellow restaurant…[just] in a different facility.”

After hitting many of their first-year goals (i.e., be a staple of late-night downtown; serve at the Farmers Market; be a source of good food for restaurant staff coming off the clock late), Burr, Favara, and Scott are focusing on their second year. Their 2013 goals include expanding their garden (even with the tough 2012 summer, they still used most of the produce they planted), have a regular beef supplier (“You’d think it would be easy to find local beef in Nebraska,” Burr says), and be more available to the young entrepreneurs of Omaha. “We love that crowd,” Favara says. The truck supplied a meal last May to attendees of Big Omaha, a convention produced by Silicon Prairie News.

And years down the road? They’ve thought of a quick-service restaurant, just a little kitchen with a walk-up window. More trucks one day, like Kogi, and maybe a trailer for festivals. “We’re not limiting ourselves,” Favara says with a smile. “We’re not the first food truck in Omaha, but I think we’re setting the standard.”

Find Localmotive’s location schedule at localmotivefoodtruck.com.