Cincinnati BBQ food truck gets creative to stay open during pandemic

BBQ restaurant trying to stay alive with new guidelines, meat shortages

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Like so many other businesses right now, a BBQ restaurant in Mt. Washington is making major adjustments to stay open during the coronavirus pandeic.

The owner of Sweets & Meats BBQ - Carry Out, Catering & Food Truck said they are battling a meat shortage as they also follow new state guidelines to keep employees and customers safe.

Kristen Bailey said the meat shortage is forcing them to make some big changes to their menu.

They are unable to offer all of their customers’ favorites, so she said they doing all they can to be creative and find new food items.

When the red Sweets & Meats BBQ food truck stops through the neighborhood, customers begin lining up.

Bailey said she’s hit a lot of road blocks to keep her business running through the pandemic.

“There was a time two months ago that I didn’t think we were going to make it at all. I thought I was going to lose everything,” she recalled.

Her biggest challenge has been finding meat, especially when the restaurant depot shelves are bare.

“People are buying up the meat at soon as it hits the shelves and, literally, the shelves are empty,” said Bailey.

Another challenge? Skyrocketing costs.

"My price has tripled in the last 10 days, so I used to pay $3.89 for brisket and now it's above $8.00 a pound," said Bailey.

She decided to get creative with some menu substitutions by building a relationship with another local company, Queen City Sausage in Camp Washington.

“We’ve done smoked bologna. We’ve done smoked pickle loaf. We’ve done goetta mac, so we’re trying some new stuff on our menu," Bailey said. "It isn’t something we’ve considered before, but we’ve got to have something to serve our customers.”

They seem to be loving it.

“It’s amazing. It looks really good. I love BBQ. I’m a big fan,” said Jahn Mojica, a first-time customer.

Sweets & Meats BBQ - Carryout, Catering & Food Truck is getting creative with new menu items while continuing to serve popular dishes.
Sweets & Meats BBQ - Carryout, Catering & Food Truck is getting creative with new menu items while continuing to serve popular dishes. (Source: Sweets & Meats BBQ - Carryout, Catering & Food Truck)

Now, Sweets & Meats BBQ’s fan base is continuing to grow despite having to cancel all of their events through August due to the pandemic.

Bailey said they also are taking the food truck to different neighborhoods each week to reach new customers - and it’s paying off.

“It’s forced us to be courageous and we’re just excited about what the future holds for Sweets & Meats,” Bailey said.

The community support, she said, has been amazing.

Another local company that is among the largest in the world, Procter & Gamble, has teamed up with Sweets & Meats to help supply face masks, cleaning supplies and sanitizer to keep everyone safe.

Check out where Sweets and Meats BBQ food truck is going next by visiting their Facebook page.

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