There is bad smoke, like the kind caused by fire that has become too familiar thus far this spring.
And then there’s good smoke. Really, really good smoke, like the kind you smell in Roy’s new neighborhood.
Who’s Roy, you ask? That would be Roy Saul, owner of Roy’s Barbecue Shoppe in downtown Minot. Roy’s opened on May 1 after several months in the planning stages.
Offering ribs, brisket and pulled pork along with a variety of sides, drinks and desserts, Roy’s has something to offer pretty much every lover of the sweet, smoky science.
“I kind of like to see people grab meat and go sit with their families or go picnic,” Saul said.
“It just falls apart,” Saul said. “I had some people come in to get some brisket, and it was just to the point of being shredded or whether it could be sliced.”
“Good thing I’ve got sharp knives,” he laughed, “because if I hadn’t it would have been shredded.”
Saul serves his sliced brisket sans sauce, but the shredded brisket, pulled pork and ribs are slathered up and ready to go.
“If I have ribs in the oven and you don’t want sauce on them, I don’t sauce them,” he said. “They come from the smoker and into the oven. Then I put them into a warming pot. I sauce them in the oven so it sticks real good, but I usually have some naked ribs back there.”
Saul said he’s careful not to make his sauce too spicy, as upper Midwesterners aren’t known for the same tastes in sauce as some other locales.
“We’re up north, not down in Texas,” he laughed. He is, however, ready to add his spicy chipotle sauce into the selection as well as a barbecue mustard, once the opportunity presents itself. Thus far, he said, all his time and energy has been absorbed in startup.
Roy’s is located in the Bricks building on East Central Avenue, in the spot formerly occupied by Crown Cakes. The restaurant has a little room for dine-in customers, but is mainly geared for take-out orders. Three employees per shift pretty much fill the kitchen workspace, Saul said.
“We didn’t want a huge place,” he said. “This is just about perfect. It’s cozy.”
Thus far, he’s found himself being more the head dishwasher than the boss, he said. Along with Saul, his wife and two daughters, Roy’s employs four other people at this point. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“I’ve catered for years and years,” Saul said. “This has always been kind of my dream.”
That’s why Saul left his job as Ward County’s Homeland Security Planner to open the restaurant about a month ago.
Although it’s far too soon to tell just yet, Saul also said that if success dictates it, he’d like to put another location “across town.”
“I would absolutely love to have something on North Hill,” he said.
The smoker Saul uses is a source of pride – “Roy’s toy,” he calls it.
“That’s my baby,” he said. “I’ve got the coolest toy in the world that I can just pull around with my pickup.”
Saul said he likes to cook the meat at around 200 degrees to get a nice “cold smoke.”
“It really gets down into the meat, and it’s slow-cooked so it’s nice and tender,” he said.
“I love the stuff. I’ll probably eat myself out of house and home,” he laughed.
Saul says his barbecue is a combination of several styles, ranging from Kansas City to Texas to Portuguese – and many points in between.
Retired from the Air Force, he’s picked up things along the way during extensive travel.
Saul is serious about serving delicious food, but conversely, he’s not about to take himself too seriously.
“I use a little of a lot of different spices. They go well together. I don’t know why – I’m not a cook,” he laughed. “Here’s what I like, and if you like it too, eat it.
“If you don’t, you can always go to McDonald’s.”
Roy Saul, owner of the newly opened Roy’s Barbecue Shoppe, shows off “Roy’s toy” – the smoker he uses to slow-cook meat, on Monday.