Pure Joy

I remember looking at the 2017 calendar early this year and groaning that July 4th was going to be on a Tuesday. The groan was a retrospective reaction from my 27 years in the railroad industry where I was accustomed to a four day weekend when July 4th fell on a Thursday or Tuesday. Those sweet long weekends are all but a distant memory for me now.

Independence Day falling on a Tuesday does pose certain problems for commercial businesses all over the country with the likelihood of an unproductive Wednesday since the climax of the four day weekend bender is Tuesday after dark. It’s in the best interest of productivity that there are 2 or 3 days recovery available after a good and proper celebration. I was trying to slip off into bed about the time the firework party was just getting started across the street in the unmowed yard of the single family home that houses about a dozen.

I’d be willing to wager that our gross national product is a point or two lower in years where July 5th is on a Wednesday. Everyone is just trying to survive on those Wednesdays. On Thursday everyone is feeling better, but a certain amount of brain energy is now distracted by thoughts regarding the coming weekend. On Thursday you can smell the weekend. Going to work on Fridays in a short work week seems almost pointless, so this last week there was probably some work that got done between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday before lunch. Maybe there was about 8 hours of productivity for the week. Some businesses would probably cost out better by closing the week of July 4th. I am going somewhere with this so hang in there with me.

The question I had on those July 5th Wednesday mornings while I was trying to right my own ship was…why does Thanksgiving get Thursday every year? You have to admit, Independence Weekend does have a nice ring to it? Labor Day and Memorial Day get their 3 day weekends. Why doesn’t the greatest country in the history of the world get a 4 day weekend every year to properly celebrate its birthday?  Historians will point out that our nation was actually drafted, created, and declared over several weeks that summer. I want a four day Independence Weekend that starts on Thursday. One of ya’ll need to get on this. Let’s get that petition going already. For 2018 Independence Weekend should be July 5th – 8th. Next year July 4th is on Wednesday. What are we supposed to do with that? Make it a 5 day weekend during Hump Day years would be my suggestion.

We made the decision to be closed on July fourth which gave us 2.5 days off approximately. You have to think about the logistics of closing and opening a barbecue and chocolate craftory. For us, a normal week ends Saturday evening and starts Monday morning as we prep to be open on Tuesdays. Closing on Tuesday meant that some prep would be done on Monday (not me) and food deliveries were received. Michelle and I were able to take two days in a row off. Norm and Paul crushed prep on Monday. We really appreciated that.

Michelle and I went to the lake to drink whiskey with friends.

By 9:30 I was passed out in a chase lounge. I got up and went to bed somewhere around 2:00 am, but should have just slept out there in the lakeside breeze. It was pretty darn pleasant out that evening.

Turns out our friends lake house is right next door to Hootie who owns Tony’s Italian Deli in Conroe. They were named the #1 restaurant in the country by Yelp earlier this year. Hootie and I talked about food, customers, Yelp, catfishing, and lakeside living. That is Hootie’s fishing pole in the back ground. I like that dude. He has some of those underwater green lights that attracts fish in close by the bulk head. Lake Conroe was all worked up into a full summer holiday lather.

I didn’t need to be back to work until Tuesday morning to get barbecue prep started up. Chris came in to help with the cooker so we managed a rare midday break for an offsite lunch.

Michelle, Greg, and I went to Corkscrew BBQ for lunch.

Last time I got to eat Will and Nicole’s barbecue was back when they had the trailer set up on Budde Rd. Corkscrew opened their new joint about two weeks before we opened The Craftory. While Nicole was running around everywhere aiming shop fans at people that needed to have fans aimed at them she saw us and came over for a chat. It was fun listening to Nicole tell the story about how they had their eye on the ice house waiting for it to come available so they could make it Corkscrew’s new permanent home. It was clearly meant to be.

The pork ribs were gone before we got inside.

That was to be expected. I’ve never had Will’s pork ribs. I knew we should have come earlier. 🙂

I watched the tall kid behind the register head over towards the chalk board. Son of a sausage, that was now gone too. As we shuffled some more up the line, the kid headed for the chalk board again. I wanted to yell up the line “someone take the damn chalk away from that guy would ya please.”, but I didn’t want to cause a scene. Holy poultry batman, the turkey is all gone.

As we got closer to the front, I could see the conversations happening out of the kitchen over to the register. Greg and I were smiling as we are familiar with the communication routine when the meat quantities are running low. I heard the kitchen say “I have enough pulled pork for one taco”, and mother porker the lady standing directly in front of me bought that last of the pulled pork.  She turned around to say sorry and then left to go eat her pork taco leaving me with the kid at the chalk board. I don’t think she really meant it.

We ordered brisket, lean and fatty, baked beans, potato salad, slaw, mac & cheese, and of course some blueberry cobbler. I could see that Will was sporting a fresh sun burn so I asked how the fishing was and he said all he caught was the sun burn.

We sat down outside and went to work on some grub. The brisket was trimmed, seasoned, cooked, and sliced exactly how you’d expect Corkscrew to do it. It was perfect. The thing that is interesting about barbecue is the variety of styles. Barbecue means something different to everybody and that’s the beauty of it all. Will’s brisket is big and smokey. The sides were all excellent and yet very different than ours. I love Corkscrew in so many ways. We could see the years of learning the game from a trailer and putting that experience into action in their permanent joint. Their joint is set up so well, and we did have to admit that we got a little kitchen envy. We would kill for that kind of space and efficiency. That’s coming for us in due time. We’re in a good lane.

I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend The Fourth of July than eating great barbecue at a place that Will and Nicole started in their driveway years ago. They even got the American Dream down perfect too.

Wednesday and Thursday were a little calmer than the previous 6 weeks. We sort of figured it would be as it tends to be slower the week after a holiday. We darn near got to closing time those days with something for everybody.

The line was back in full force on Friday and Saturday with early sell outs again.

Picture by Dave Bamberg

It was another week with some hurdles to get over. Our Internet service went out in the middle of lunch on Friday. I had to use my iPhone as a hot spot so we could process credit cards. ATT came out at 11:30 am on Saturday, didn’t fix anything, and changed the router settings so our whole sound and paging system was out with no time for a reset. We had to run our cloud based POS on a Verizon jet pack. Never a dull moment.

I came through the kitchen on Saturday as this barbecue tray was being assembled.

Ever see a chef slice off a giant beef rib and put it on a tray? I felt like my grandson Noah on his first bike ride.

Oh the pure joy. If we could only put that on a tray.

Then I saw Samantha Fox post this picture on Facebook.

Same tray.  Ha ha ha ha…that was funny.

Janie, Cat, and Michelle kept the chocolate truffles flowing.

They’ve settled in nicely down the alley with the extra room for chocolate production. They pass by the cooker bringing truffles over to the display. If someone is sitting near by I like to yell “here comes salted caramel truffles fresh off the pit”. I get a reaction sometimes and sometimes I get nothing. I’ll keep trying anyways.

Perhaps the highlight of the week though was Ryan Samson giving us a bottle of Booker’s Whiskey.

This was his way to say congratulations. Now he’s talking our language. What a great gesture and one that we do encourage. I looked like that because some sausage from the peanut gallery behind was offering to open it for me. Thank you Ryan. I want you to know that this whiskey is a perfect night cap. A small snifter of this bourbon and I’m sleeping like a champ.

By the time I got home Saturday evening I was tired but not as tired. I felt pretty good actually, so I did what comes natural.

I fired up the grill and sizzled up some nice steaks for dinner.

Hope to see you soon okay.

Cheers! Scott

PS. Well crap. I just heard that Matt Patrick died today. I’m really going to miss his morning radio show. RIP Matt. You did earth proud. May peace be with your family and close friends.

One Response to “Pure Joy

  • Susan Murrell
    7 months ago

    Hello Scott, I am tickled every color in the rainbow that Tejas is such a big hit, you definitely have the best brisket I’ve ever eaten.
    I’m sorry Kristine didn’t work out there, just not her line of work I guess.
    I’m in the middle of rehabbing my second flip house, I really enjoy what I’m doing, it’s a challenge and fun. Just wanted to say hi… see you soon if I can get in the door😋

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