A life in BBQ: Talking restaurant business with Real Urban Barbecue’s Jeff Shapiro

I’m joined by Real Urban Barbecue owner Jeff Shapiro at his new location at 5238 Touhy in Skokie (“Smokie”). I’ve been going to his Highland Park location for years, and was a fan long before he broke ground just west of the Edens.

Before we started the podcast interview, he took me on a tour of the restaurant. You can see that on the Car Con Carne YouTube page (https://youtu.be/zabYQ3hnO_4).

During the episode, we talk about:

  • Scouting and vetting processes needed to open a successful restaurant
  • Why Skokie?
  • Burnt ends: What are they, and why are they so damn delicious? (Turbinado sugar helps.)
  • St. Louis ribs can’t get arrested in Chicago
  • Me: “I want to drink the barbecue sauce.” Jeff: “I’ve got a straw.”
  • The 24 hour cooking cycle: How is that managed?
  • My misbehavior as a teenager at the local Holiday Inn
  • The sides at Real Urban Barbecue keep me coming back. Jeff doesn’t share my boundless love for his Brussels sprouts
  • “This whole time, I should’ve been eating like an adult.”
  • Smoking garlic: “It’s unbelievable”
  • Why are rib tips only an Oakbrook thing?
  • How do you know when you’re being too aggressive with growth in business?
  • The need to have a “snack side” for the trip home
  • My son interrupts the show to ask for pulled pork
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