Adam Myers has had it pretty good at his Burn Co. BBQ restaurant at 18th Street and Boston Avenue. Customers line up on the sidewalk at least 30 minutes before the doors open at the lunch-only restaurant. The kitchen regularly sells out of its most popular barbecue items daily, and Myers has had plenty of family time in the evenings.
That was then. This is now.
When we saw Myers last week he was a whirling dervish, cutting meats, plating orders, whipping in and out of the banks of 17 Hasty-Bake grills in the kitchen at his new Burn Co. BBQ location on the Riverwalk in Jenks. We saw him at lunch. We saw him at dinner. Always in constant motion. What sparked the extra workload?
“I think you have to have a grow-or-die mentality to stay vital,” Myers said. “I also decided I could have more impact by teaching more people how to do this craft. And, by adding dinner, I can offer more variety than just the standard barbecue. I can do seafood, steaks and vegetables that aren’t workable in the downtown location.
“The Tulsa store is in good hands, so I will be spending most of my time out here until it’s running totally like I want it, maybe three months.”
We went by for dinner recently with my brother and sister-in-law, who have been following Myers since his days at Hasty-Bake, where he did cooking demos and classes for 12 years.
We ordered some old and some new items, including a four-meat combo, a salmon salad, grilled salmon with asparagus ($15), rib-eye steak and gnocchi ($20) and five chicken drumsticks with potato salad ($9).
Because everything is cooked on Hasty-Bake grills, usually under low temperature and heavy smoke, everything has a smoky quality to it.
The new Burn Co. doesn’t have a set menu yet, other than the standard items — ribs, chicken, brisket, sausages, etc. Myers said salmon should always be available if it doesn’t sell out, and the steaks offered could be a rib-eye, T-bone, New York strip or Porterhouse, depending on what is cut that day.
The only steak offered the night we were there was the boneless rib-eye, and it was extraordinary. It was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, and it was amazingly juicy and flavorful. The gnocchi (small doughy dumplings) were soft and smoky and a good companion to the steak.
The peppery salmon, a thick fillet for the grilled plate and a bit thinner for the salad, was flaky, cooked through and delicious. I think asparagus off the grill is about as good as asparagus gets, and the greens in the salad, mixed with onions and tomatoes, were bright and fresh.
I’m glad at least one of our party stuck with the old items so I could get samples of the stubby, meaty ribs, tender and flavorful chopped brisket, spicy lava brats, grilled potato salad and often overlooked and much underrated grilled bologna.
The drumsticks didn’t come from little chickens. These were huge. The skins were charred almost black and covered tender meat underneath. These are a bargain.
Burn Co. currently offers low-point beer but will add full bar service when the proper licenses are acquired.
The fresh meat market, about twice the size of the Tulsa store, features a variety of items, such as sausages, ribs, roast beef, bacon, pork shoulder, steaks, brisket, bologna and pork chops. Prices are moderate. For instance, pork chops are $2.99 a pound, drumsticks 99 cents a pound and rib-eye steak $13.99 a pound.
When business is brisk, the dining room is organized chaos and pretty loud. Customers get in line to place their orders, then take a seat at one of the 12 wooden picnic tables or at two-top or four-top tables. Servers bring the orders to the dining room and call out the name of the customers until they are located.
Diners can see into the open kitchen, where the grills are topped by 73 linear feet of vent hoods, and watch the plates put together behind the order counter.
“I think people like to see what is going on,” Myers said. “And Grant Hastings (late Hasty-Bake founder) once told me it’s not just the food, it’s entertainment, too.”
One room that seats up to 60 diners can be closed off for private functions.
Burn Co. BBQ is part of the revival of Riverwalk, which now includes Andolini’s Pizzeria, Maryn’s Taphouse & Raw Bar, Los Cabos Mexican Grill & Cantina, Marble Slab Creamery and The Melting Pot. The Bramble will open a second store there later this year.
“On Friday and Saturday, the Riverwalk is packed with people walking around and kids at the splash pad, and we have all kinds of places now to get something to eat or drink,” Myers said.
“When I came to Jenks, I talked to a lot of people who said they had heard of us but never had been able to make lunch in Tulsa. We weren’t accessible to them, and now we are. We feel really welcome here,” Myers said.