SCHERERVILLE | Local barbecue fans have a new hot spot to check out for a good meal.
Q-BBQ has come to town and will tempt foodies with its rich smoked flavors, succulent sides and signature sauces. The restaurant, owned by Michael LaPidus, is located in Schererville, near the newly opened Whole Foods as well as Tomato Bar Pizza Bakery, Carrabba's, Meatheads and other eateries. The restaurant officially opens Friday.
"This is our fourth location. Our first was in LaGrange, Ill.," said owner Michael LaPidus. He said Northwest Indiana was a perfect spot for Q-BBQ, which is his homage to the classic roadside barbecue joints he discovered while traveling across the country. (Other Q-BBQ locations are in Chicago's Lakeview area and Naperville in addition to Schererville and LaGrange).
"Northwest Indiana, especially Schererville, is a growing market," LaPidus said. In addition to wanting to introduce local Hoosiers to his food, LaPidus said he wanted to bring the restaurant to Northwest Indiana because it's where his wife was raised. LaPidus' wife, Jaclyn Ruzycki LaPidus, grew up in Hammond and is a graduate of Bishop Noll Institute.
On a card handed out at the eatery, which has LaPidus' culinary history on it, it states, "Something was missing" (from his growing barbecue empire). "Something that was a part of our family history. Years ago, I met a girl. She was from Northwest Indiana and went to Bishop Noll. We golfed in Highland, saw movies on Indianapolis Boulevard, and as all the best stories go ... we fell in love. When we opened Q-BBQ in 2009, I vowed that someday we'd come back. And here we are."
LaPidus describes Q-BBQ as "authentic barbecue" and a "fine casual restaurant where you order at the counter and we bring the food to you."
Hospitality and community, he explained, are extremely important to his business.
For LaPidus, barbecue has been a favorite meal choice for years. In 2008, he traveled across the country to visit classic barbecue joints and sought out "places that look like abandoned houses with lines of hungry people waiting for meals of smoked meats, mac and cheese, cornbread and sweet tea."
He loved tasting all of the different flavors and learning about the various styles of barbecue.
"I am not a trained chef. I'm a trained eater," LaPidus said. "Barbecue has always been my favorite." When he opened his LaGrange eatery in 2009, LaPidus said his intent was "to bring the roadside barbecue shack to an urban area."
At Q-BBQ, LaPidus said he's not just offering one style of barbecue but taking from the different regions.
"We are bringing the dry rubbed meats of Memphis, the pulled pork from the Carolinas and the smoked briskets from Texas," he said.
With the signature sauces available at the eatery, the Sweet sauce is indicative of Memphis, Spicy from Texas and Vinegar representing the Carolinas.
At Q-BBQ, while preparing the food, meats are smoked for 22 hours (low and slow) and ribs simmer for seven hours. LaPidus said everything's homemade, from the meat dishes to the creative sides.
Among stars of the menu are Brisket Burnt Ends, Baby Back Ribs, Dry-Rub Wings, Carolina Pulled Pork, 4 Cheese Mac-Q-Roni, Deep Fried Corn Fritters, and various Sliders, featuring pork, chicken and brisket plus much more.
LaPidus said he enjoys trying different restaurants and also checks out a lot of the barbecue competition.
"I like Bombers," he said, about the popular Munster barbecue joint. At a recent preview of Schererville's Q-BBQ, LaPidus invited owners and workers from various restaurants as well as other community notables. The owner of Irish Times Pub in Brookfield, Ill., and the owners of B.J.'s Market and Bakery in Chicago were also on hand to taste test Q-BBQ's fare.
LaPidus said sharing is also important in a restaurant business climate.
"What's really neat about the barbecue community is we all get along. We all have our different flavors and we all like each other and want each other to succeed."