Hudsonites open Texas BBQ in BayportRustle up your taste buds and travel across the St. Croix River to try out the newest culinary treat in the St. Croix Valley.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
Rustle up your taste buds and travel across the St. Croix River to try out the newest culinary treat in the St. Croix Valley. Chris and Kristen Johnson, Hudson residents since 2000, are taking their entire family on a new adventure and it centers around food, specifically Texas BBQ.
Chris has always had a fascination with food and music. Working as a baker on Nantucket Island during college he earned recognition for his blueberry coffeecake. That interest never left him even though he went on to explore other careers including being a music producer, bringing 70 bands together in 2009 at the Cabooze Club in Minneapolis for the Deep Blues Fest.
“I have always dug food and entertainment,” said Chris. Now the couple and their children are merging the two interests at Bayport BBQ, which had a soft opening Oct. 31, just serving lunches. On Nov. 20 they added dinner and weekend hours.
To understand the unique nature of this business you have to back up a few months.
“I had traveled to Texas and enjoyed that style of food and thought it would be a great addition to the area,” said Chris. So in August Chris and Kristen packed up their three children, Jack, 12, Sam, 8, and Ellie, 10, and took off on a two-week road trip to the Texas hill country.
They stopped and ate at over 20 different restaurants and road houses known for Texas BBQ.
“It was BBQ every day for lunch and dinner,” said Kristen. As they journeyed through the hill country down to Austin, the whole family took part in the research. “The kids gave us input on everything from the type of glasses to the silverware and what tasted the best.”
While the whole family was tasting and checking out everything from how the food was served to menu entrees and accompaniments, Chris was also researching the smokers in each of the kitchens.
When they returned home they had a pretty good idea of exactly what they hoped to accomplish.
It was time to find a spot for Texas BBQ to make a debut. They purchased a building in Bayport, Minn., which for years had been a culinary destination, the former location of the Bayport Cookery.
“We were looking for an available property,” said Chris. “I hope it will continue as a destination for good food.” The couple remodeled and updated the building and, of course, brought in the necessary equipment to make real Texas BBQ including the wood burner smoker.
Once the road trip ended the family began to formulate the recipes. Everything is made from scratch including the distinctive sauce, which Chris created. Kristen is making the sourdough bread and the kids picked out five different recipes for coleslaw and had the neighbors come over for a taste test.
Food, sold by the pound, is served on metal trays covered with butcher paper. The glasses are mason jars and the silverware is real not plastic. You can order takeout or eat in. Beverages include beer, wine, moonshine, sweet tea and Mexican Coke (made with real sugar).
The menu includes beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken, smoked turkey, barbeque spaghetti and spareribs as well as sausage. Sides of beans and coleslaw complete the package. Homemade desserts include peach cobbler and Chris’ award-winning blueberry coffeecake.
Sauce is on the side, it is one of the distinctions of Texas style BBQ.
For complete offering stop in and take in the aroma and taste for yourself. In the future, the evenings will be spiced up with blues music played from 8-10 p.m.
“My definition of blues is very wide,” said Chris. “I know a lot of artists have taken the blues’ influence and included it in their music.”
“It is family oriented,” said Kristen, who is active in the Willow River Parent Group and was on the board of directors for BRIDGE. Making the business a family adventure began on the road trip and will continue through the years as the children each work in the family business.
“It is great to work with people of integrity and good values,” said Chris.
Bayport BBQ, located at 328 5th Ave. North, is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to closing. For more information, go to www.bayportbbq.com, visit Facebook or call (715) 410-1116.