Findlay Market isn’t just a place to buy produce and spices and gelato, but also a small business incubator. That’s why you’ll see small businesses occasionally leave and head to bigger locations, or expand, like Taste of Belgium did. In speaking with Cheryl Eagleson, the Director of Marketing for the Market (shortly after I ate what I’m reviewing here), she pointed out a couple of things– first, that they’re happy if a vendor leaves because they’ve outgrown the space. That means that the small business owner has done something right. Second, if a vendor doesn’t succeed, they need to rethink their product or their business plan, because there is plenty of business for everyone.
Based on the line I had to wait in for Velvet Smoke, I have a feeling they’ll need a little more space soon.
Velvet Smoke started as a competitive barbecue team, which includes Matt Schneider, Marc Stitt, J.R. Herrmann and Todd Shanks. They’ve been competing around the country with their barbecue since 2009, garnering awards including 2011 Reserve Grand Champion at the Sam’s Club BBQ Tour, and Grand Champion at the Jim Dandy’s Cookoff in 2010. They have some barbecue credentials. They decided to try to start a business around barbecue, so they take their smoker and a tent to Findlay Market on Saturdays and Sundays to sell to hungry shoppers.
They have a small menu: Kansas City-style pulled pork, brisket and ribs. I patiently waited in line for a pulled pork sandwich on a Servatii bun, topped with sauce, coleslaw and a side of chips. To be honest, the bun (only lightly toasted) is a big skip for me (and I also declined the chips). Just give me the pulled pork, with plenty of dark, outside pieces (my favorite) and soft, smoky-pink inside pieces topped with a very tangy Kansas City-style sauce. The slaw is lightly dressed and just adds a bit of crunch– perfect.
I’ll be back to try the ribs and brisket (and maybe I’ll have to get the pulled pork again….)
Edit: Eli’s will return to the Market in May, in addition to their East End location. Do I sense a BBQ throwdown?