Sadly, another of my favorite dining establishments has gone belly up. I’m referring to Big Lou’s Barbecue, a little hole in the wall joint with delicious ribs. Ahhhh, I can smell that sauce. Unfortunately, my memories will have to suffice.
Big Lou’s was the epitome of a bad business model. This was not an eatery frequented by the chichi hoi-polloi. No, clean khakis and a polo shirt were oftentimes crossing the dresscode line — worn flannel and frayed denim more the norm. While Lou’s was low on ambience, it was big on taste. Unfortunately, good food is not enough to be successful, as Lou should have known.
What went wrong? Many things. First, this place was not in the best location — a very small, old strip mall in a run-down, part residential, part business area where access was difficult from the main road — no stop lights to help one turn onto or from the intersection. Second, there wasn’t enough advertising done. I only discovered this place by accident as I was stopped in traffic one day and happened to look to my left at the large concrete pig guarding the eatery’s front door. Third, the wait staff were all kids – high school or college kids. Now they were all nice enough, but hadn’t quite conquered that old work ethic yet. It was not unusual to see tables full of dirty dishes while the kids were lounging at an empty table of their own comparing notes on their kid lives. Not good for the customers to see that. It often took awhile to be served at Lou’s. You could sit at your table for some time trying to get attention. Once your order was taken, well, there were reports of customers dying of old age while waiting for their food to appear. Big Lou wasn’t well organized back in the kitchen I suppose. Out in the restaurant part, you really didn’t want to look at the floor closely. Those linoleum squares didn’t frequently see the south end of a mop. Guess Big Lou felt a broom was good enough. And, lastly, what is one of the most important items to have available at your check-out counter? Besides the Junior Mints, of course. Why, that would be a take-out menu. One could rarely be found at the counter at Big Lou’s. Once I asked the kid at the cash register, “Could I get a take-out menu, please?” He answered, “I don’t think we have any.” Gah. Not good for repeating business.
Anyway, I’ll miss the ribs and the yummy baked sweet potatoes. What I’ll miss most is the luxury of eating somewhere not named ApplebeesRedRobinMcDonaldsChilisTGIFridaysBW3BostonMarket. The days of the mom and pop eatery are declining rapidly and that’s a sad state of affairs here in America.