One Barrel reopens with a new boutique barbecue food concept
After being closed for 18 months, One Barrel Brewing Co. introduces barbecue to accompany its brews.
The thought of having a barbecue kitchen in One Barrel Brewing Co. a few years ago was almost out of the question.
One Barrel has been open since 2012 and grew to a second location in Door County three years ago. While operating the locations, One Barrel also coordinated an off-site brewery to make large batches of beer to sell around the state. Owner Pete Gentry and Director of Operations Adam Ginsberg already had a lot on their plate, which pushed food operations to the back burner.
“We’d always discussed how we could do something with food,” Ginsberg says. “We talked about maybe turning the brewery into a kitchen, and every time it was too expensive and risky. We just didn’t know what we were doing.”
They always offered traditional Wisconsin bar snacks — a selection of local pizzas, cheese curds and summer sausage — but eventually Gentry and Ginsberg knew it wasn’t enough. The two bounced ideas off each other every so often, but the idea of a two or three week forced closure for renovation was financially impossible.
Then, the pandemic hit in March 2020, and it changed everything. Ginsberg says the bar had to lay off its staff, and pivot completely to wholesale, which had only been half of sales previously.
“We were terrified, wholesale stayed alright, but $10 for a six-pack of beer means almost nothing in the grand scheme of things,” Ginsberg says. “Luckily people would also come in and buy gift cards, to help us and our employees. We decided right away that 100% of the revenue we brought in [from gift card sales] would go directly to our laid off employees.”
While the forced closure brought financial struggles, it also gave Gentry and Ginsberg time to think about a kitchen renovation. The two started to create a list of possible foods to serve, and pizza eventually made its way to the top.
“[Gentry] and I both took a break after that conversation, and we came back on the same page. We just weren’t feeling pizza,” Ginsberg says. “There’s so much pizza here that we could have really good pizza — like really good pizza — and it would still be the worst in town.”
Instead, the two decided on barbecue because it was a food their neighborhood was missing. Ginsberg’s close friend, Steve Doty, started at One Barrel as general manager and head chef. Doty suggested fitting a food truck with equipment to cook the barbecue instead of renovating the brewery.
Doty calls his food truck “Boutique BBQ,” because the barbecue isn’t being cooked or smoked traditionally. The truck has high tech smokers that allow Doty to slow cook the meat all day without creating billowing smoke. Barbecue purists might be shocked by their approach, but Ginsberg says that doesn’t really matter.
“Steve understands that the bottom line is making the meat good and tasty, not how it’s cooked,” Ginsberg says. “That’s all that really matters.”
The Boutique BBQ menu at One Barrel keeps it simple, offering a platter with your choice of one protein, three sides and two sauces. The menu was released Sept. 17 for One Barrel’s grand reopening, and Ginsberg says reviews of the food have already been overwhelmingly positive.
“We’re new to this, but it’s gone better in the first two weeks than I imagined it,” Ginsberg says. “And we can always get better.”
As Doty dials in the flavor for the barbecue, the rest of the bar is continuing to renovate as well. One Barrel has started to offer (and plans to continue to add) more non-alcoholic options — including Nessalla Kombucha on tap, Baumeister Root Beer and two Untitled Art non-alcoholic beers.
The physical bar will also get at least one more renovation soon. Taking out the front windows, in favor of a retractable garage door with a quartz countertop and low top chairs. Even with all the renovations, Ginsberg says they strive for consistency, and it’s the key to get better at everything they do.
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