When he visited Mount Airy more than a year ago, Chris Bastian believed something was missing downtown. Now, after three months in business, Bastian and co-owner Debbie Higgins say Granite City Bar-B-Q has brought barbecue to Main Street.
“I was amazed that here in the barbecue capitol of the world there wasn’t a single barbecue place on Main Street,” remarked Bastian.
Bastian might be a newcomer to Mount Airy, but he’s not new to the barbecue business. For 23 years prior to his move to Mount Airy Bastian owned and operated Bastian’s BBQ in Roanoke, Virginia. He said Bastian’s Bar-B-Q won a number of state-wide awards while he operated the joint.
Prior to owning his own business, Bastian spent decades as an executive chef for Marriott and other hotels.
Bastian said he and Higgins, who are engaged, fell in love with Mount Airy when they visited the city. Bastian added that when the Mount Airy business community learned of their ambitions, many local business owners were supportive of the business venture.
“It’s a nice town where people are friendly,” said Bastian. “On the way back (to Virginia) we said, ‘Why not shut down the business in Roanoke and move here (Mount Airy)?’”
That’s exactly what Bastian and Higgins did. Though the two are serving up barbecue in a new place, not much else has changed.
“Our selling point has always been that our food is fresh,” said Bastian.
Bastian explained that every evening he loads his apple hickory smoker with what will become the next day’s barbecue. After smoking all night the meat is ready for Bastian the next morning, when he chops it by hand.
According to Bastian “freshness” is something one finds in everything at Granite City Bar-B-Q. From sides to deserts, nearly everything is made fresh on site. That includes sauces, which is an area in which Bastian takes a special pride.
“We had a lady eating here, and she said, ‘This tastes like Bastian’s,” explained the business owner.
Bastian had to explain to the woman that it was, in fact, the same sauce to which she had grown accustomed in Roanoke. He said that story is telling of just how good the product he offers is.
Granite City Bar-B-Q offers a “Texas style” ketchup-based sauce, a vinegar-based “Carolina style,” a “Memphis style” mustard-based sauce and a hot sauce. Bastian said he smokes the barbecue, then folks can make it whatever flavor they prefer.
According to Bastian all sauces are handmade on site, and he said the sauces are a hit.
“People get a little bit with their dinner, then they ask to buy a pint to take home,” said Bastian, adding that he may soon begin canning and selling his sauce.
Bastian said those who might shy away from barbecue will be pleasantly surprised to see Granite City’s menu. It includes a number of options ranging from burgers to salads. The restaurant also has a bar with three beers on tap and a wide selection of wines and bottled beers.
Bastian said life and business has been good since he and Higgins relocated and opened-up shop at the former Pandowdy’s location. While the two saw a surge of business in their first month of operation, Bastian said business has tapered off some. He attributed this phenomenon to the end of “the tourist season.”
That stated, Bastian also said he has yet to hold a grand opening at Granite City. He said he may soon do this, so that more folks can have a little taste of the only barbecue joint on Main Street.
Granite City Bar-B-Q is open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Andy is a staff witer for The News and can be reached at (336) 415-4698.