With the company less than a year old, Bubba Phatz BBQ co-owner Brian Banasek opened the doors to the restaurant’s second location on Roosevelt and Seventh streets about two weeks ago. Banasek said he wanted to broaden his horizons outside of the Mesa area and support the local art district in Phoenix.
“Everything started out in Mesa at my two fine-dining restaurants,” Banasek said about his initial experimentation with barbeque. “Eight months ago, we decided to open up a barbeque restaurant, me and a couple of chefs and (Phoenix) is now a second location.”
Bubba Phatz’s name is derived from Banasek himself, who was affectionately called “Bubba” growing up. The smoked-meat lover’s paradise offers signature specialties such as the pulled pork sandwich with hot sauce and a side of coleslaw, boneless short-rib sliders and oak and pecan smoked beef brisket.
Banasek, a graduate from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, said his road to entrepreneurship began with a simple love for food and the passion for developing a delicious product for customer satisfaction.
Banasek said he chose the Phoenix arts district for his company, which he hopes to grow into a chain, because he wanted to contribute to local small businesses. He also believes that his motto of “Good Food for Good People” sets his restaurant apart from others.
“I always wanted to kind of reach that blue collar … regular Joe kind of guy and I never really could do it with the fine dining,” Banasek said.
Banasek opened his first fine-dining restaurant, S Bistro & Simply Delicious Catering, and was forced to close shop after the economy took a downward turn. He said De La Cruz Bistro was his second business venture, where he worked as an executive chef until opening Bubba Phatz’s Phoenix location.
Mike Wingert, a server for Bubba Phatz, said he has been working in the restaurant industry since he was 16 years old and has always had an interest in food trends.
“I have always followed the business of restaurants, eventually I want to own my own restaurant,” Wingert said.
Wingert said he has worked for Bubba Phatz for a year and spends his time at the Phoenix and Mesa locations, maintaining the high quality of meat and customer service at both.
Phillip McCarty, a bartender at Lost Leaf Bar and Gallery, said he stops in regularly to try different items on the menu.
“This is the best one in the world,” McCarty said. “I am a happy customer for sure. Come see this guy. He hooks it up.”
McCarty said that he was glad to see a barbeque restaurant occupy the newly rented space.
“I’m sure there are other (barbeque) spots but this is the first one to hit the area,” McCarty said.
Banasek, a Toronto native, said he has won two culinary gold medals, and his culinary creations have graced the tables of Queen Latifah, Bill Cosby, Jewel, Prince William Duke of Cambridge and Prince Henry of Wales during his cooking ventures, from restaurant work in Canada to his Bistro in Mesa.
Banasek said that his barbeque style has been compared to restaurants in South and North Carolina, according to customers.
“Some of these guys, the old timers, they’ve been all over the region and they say some of my barbeque is the best in the Valley,” Banasek said.
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Correction: Feb. 24, 2013
This article previously stated that Mike Wingert has been working in the restaurant business for 16 years. He has been working in the business since he was 16 years old.