Oklahoma-style BBQ…perfected in Colorado.
A true Colorado original, Bird Dog can be described using one word…different. Be it our cooking techniques, our house-made gluten-free sauces, our facilities, or even our name, we’ve taken every opportunity to zig where others zag. The result is a truly incomparable BBQ experience centered on the “BBQ un-snob”. Bird Dog BBQ…what makes YOU different?
“Different”…it might be the most over-used and disingenuous word thrown around in the restaurant business. Everyone claims to be different, but attempts to paint a clear picture of exactly what that means and how it translates into a benefit for the customer usually fall short of satisfying our curiosity. When you hear the word “different”, you should expect an explanation. So…what makes US different?
- Since it is the primary component of what we call Oklahoma-Style BBQ, we’ll start with our oak-smoked meats. We believe meat should taste mostly like meat. A smoky flavor is great, but you shouldn’t trade the taste of the meat for the taste of the wood. Unlike smoking with hickory or mesquite (which are very pungent woods), oak has a mild flavor which allows for thorough cooking while preserving the taste of the actual meat.
- Our name: Why do so many BBQ restaurants reference the owner in the name of the restaurant? It’s a rare day to find one that doesn’t. This person might care more about themselves than their guests; and what happens when “Bubba” isn’t cooking the food anymore?
- Logo: It doesn’t have to be a pig in a chef’s hat playing a blues guitar while holding a slab of ribs on the end of a grilling fork. It also doesn’t have to be EXTREME or engulfed in flames to get the point across.
- The sauce needs to be on the side. This is the second component of Oklahoma-Style BBQ. Beware of BBQ that comes pre-sauced…a lot of places use it as a way to “revive” or disguise an over-cooked, dried out piece of meat. Our gluten-free BBQ sauces are our secret weapons and possibly the most powerful in the arsenal. Like any other BBQ joint, we have mild, hot, and x-tra hot. However, in our persistence to be different, we have original, unique recipes you won’t find anywhere else…like our Wasabi-Q sauce. We make them all from scratch, in-house, every day without a drop of water added. As amazing as they are, they must follow some basic rules, the most important being that they should be an option…not a requirement.
- Facilities and décor: Country kitchen anyone? How about picnic tables with checkerboard tablecloths and walls adorned with spurred boots, lassos, and cowboy hats? All that’s fine, but you won’t find that at Bird Dog. Our blend of contemporary design and décor with subtle rustic touches will remind you that you live in a city, and probably don’t have much cattle-rustling experience.
- There will likely be music playing in the restaurant. It might be on a blues or country station, but it is not by mandate. There is no conspiracy to give you that “on the range”, “at a hoedown”, or “travelling the Deep South without AC on a scorching day” feeling here. You’re welcome ☺
- Our Staff: This is where our guests start to feel the real difference. Friendly, knowledgeable customer service and the satisfaction derived (by the guest) as a result is a huge factor in any dining experience and that requires happy, motivated, long-term employees. We are tirelessly devoted to ensuring the employment environment is positive, challenging, and rewarding. Although valuing employees in the name of good customer service is not unheard of, it is an exception to the norm in the restaurant industry to value and care about them as individuals as well as their development as professionals. We’ve understood this from the very beginning and we think you’ll notice.
- We encourage individuality of personality and dress among the staff, within reason of course. Our uniform requirements for hourly staff members are minimal. We’d go without uniforms altogether if it wouldn’t make identifying employees tricky for our guests. We don’t train our people to suggestive sell and we don’t want employees walking around like robots using canned phrases or having insincere interactions. We have an amazing staff and we’d like you to meet them as the people they are.
- We have a counter-side service line format where you can see the product and you can watch and talk directly to the people preparing and plating your food. This is the third component of Oklahoma-Style BBQ. We believe the personal interaction between the staff plating the food and the customer ensures a sense of pride in the preparation of your food. Want to test a sample before ordering? No problem. Just ask; but remember there is a line of people waiting patiently behind you ☺
- We have a strict policy of organic growth, first-time opportunities, and in-house promotions that lead to leadership positions. This is how you build long-term employment relationships that ultimately benefit each and every guest. The management teams in each location are made up of former hourly employees who have never held previous restaurant management titles, and our administrative team is made up of former location General Managers. This ensures that opportunities are available to our current staff members and that leadership positions are filled by people who know our customers and have a first-hand understanding of the culture we promote, the standards we expect from the food, and the aspects of customer service we value. First-time managers may not always be the best “bean counters”, but customers don’t care about administrative issues. Managers should be attentive to and focused on ensuring the best possible customer experience; we can tidy up the boring administrative stuff later.
- Restaurant vs Competition cooking: Virtually every BBQ restaurant uses what I call ‘competition cooking’ methods in the restaurant setting, either at their core or entirely. Competition cooking is using a super-low heat and loads of smoke and seasonings to cook the meats. This is how many of the great pit masters came up in the business. The point of competition cooking is to pull the most perfectly smoke-saturated piece of meat right off the smoker and, after some time for the meat to rest, deliver it straight to a judge for tasting. Unfortunately, in the restaurant setting you can’t smoke meats as they’re ordered. Food is cooked in larger quantities ahead of time and they will have to be held for several hours or even a whole day. If food comes out of the smoker ready to eat immediately, it will likely be dry and over-cooked by the time it’s on your plate. We made adjustments to the generally accepted cooking and holding practices (to the disdain of BBQ judges everywhere) to compensate for that common mistake…but the specifics regarding those adjustments have to remain a secret ☺
- We ditch the fat and gristle. Along with our streamlined service format and low overhead, this is where value, the fourth and final component of Oklahoma-Style BBQ, really starts to hit home. If you order a pound of brisket or pork and 10-25% of it is fat, that is a significant loss in value…not to mention it’s kind of gross. We trim virtually all the fat out/off of the brisket and pork so if you order a pound of meat, you get a full pound of 100%, delicious meat. That said, some people like the fat. If that’s the case, we’ve got tons of it and we can add it to your plate. It will be IN ADDITION to (not part of) the designated weight of your order and it will be free of charge.
- “Ideal Brisket”: we have our own signature way of preparing brisket. It dictates the chop size as well as the utensil used to process the brisket, but it’s most important quality is the blend of the flat and the point. There are two cuts of meat in every whole brisket. The flat is the very lean part of the brisket. It has no marbling and is most often used for sliced brisket meals. The point is the fatty part of the brisket and is often chopped for making sandwiches. Individually, the flat is too dry and the point is too fatty to be an enjoyable meal. We believe the “Ideal Brisket” is an even blend of these two cuts chopped up and piled high on the plate. If you order brisket, we don’t ask you if you want it sliced or chopped…we assume you want it to be “Ideal”.
- The final item on this list is our Oklahoma-Style BBQitself. The four components of Oklahoma-Style were mentioned in the points above: 1.Oak-smoked meats 2. Sauces on the side 3. Counter-side service. 4. Value. In a market full of restaurants offering Texas, Kansas City, Carolina, and Memphis-Style BBQ, Bird Dog is the only restaurant that offers authentic Oklahoma-Style BBQ. This will remain true as long we are in business because, much to the disdain of BBQ snobs and judges everywhere, we invented and defined it.
Our commitment to each one of these deviations from the norm is what makes Bird Dog a true alternative to the ocean of same-ness in the BBQ universe. Give us a chance to make a difference and let us show you how much we appreciate that you did. Bird Dog BBQ…what makes YOU different?