New York style barbecue?
What Mighty Quinn’s is serving doesn’t strictly mirror the Carolinas, St. Louis, Kansas City, Texas, or any other specific region. Rather, it’s a type of barbecue Mangum calls “urban or New York barbecue.” And the Big Apple is the ideal place to craft a style that isn’t just another replication of a regional favorite, he says. The city is a melting pot from around the U.S., and the world, which allows chefs to have more flexibility.
“New York-style barbecue is something that I think we were essentially kind of the catalyst of. Us and a few other brands over the years, but we were kind of the lightning rod of the new barbecue explosion that happened a few years back,” Mangum says. “There’s nothing negative about being in Kansas City and doing that style of barbecue, but I think what makes New York unique is that we’re more progressive here because of the culture, because of the pace of the city, and because of the melting pot that it is. We just chose to embrace that and let that inflect in our menu in various ways, whether it’s the wings an edamame side we started out with, whatever it might be, and that’s what makes us New York.”
In a world where information about any topic is available with one click, culinary boundaries are disappearing. Chefs have the capability to create regional dishes, read about recipes and traditions, and order specific ingredients that wouldn’t have been available a couple of decades ago, Mangum says.
“For the longest time, information was not sitting on a supercomputer in our hands and you had to road trip to taste barbecue,” he says. “So, when I was a kid and I was tasting Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, and Kansas City barbecue I actually had to go to those places. And you know recipes and/or information wasn’t available. I think that, obviously, with the information age you can place an order and have seasonings or sauces or any of those things delivered to your door step from any of these places.”
Mighty Quinn’s menu is small, Mangum admits. But it is intentionally simple. This allows the brand to focus on properly executing the smoking process. The menu includes classic and heavier sides like sweet potato casserole as well as lighter options.
“I think the beauty of what we do and why it works so well in the quick-serve format is because we don’t just serve heavy food. The beauty of it is for lunch you can eat at Mighty Quinn’s two times a week, three times a week and have brisket or pulled chicken, but you can have that with kale salad and some pickles as opposed to having to having it with mac and cheese or beans,” Mangum says.
“We’re the first ones who have cracked the code on how to serve really well slow-cooked food in a quick-service setting,” he adds. “I think that that’s one of the beauties of our setup. You’re not getting parboiled ribs just served quickly, but the hook is that Mighty Quinn’s is serving the first true authentic barbecue in a quick-serve because we were able to figure out how to manage the service line.”
Mighty Quinn’s caters to businessmen out for lunch as well as friends out on the town for dinner. Magid says, “I think one important differentiator of Mighty Quinn’s versus other barbecue restaurants is that the menu is very accessible. We have restaurants that are in commercial business districts that are primarily lunch markets where people are grabbing food and going back to their desks, and then we have spots like in the East Village that are more neighborhood nighttime kind of destinations, so I think that the menu has kind of proven we can cater to both of those markets.