There are just certain things you can’t hurry. Like love, DMV workers and authentic smoked barbecue.
Modesto native Heather Love plans to bring that last one back to her hometown with her new restaurant The Burnt End. The downtown Modesto spot is named after a particularly tasty cut trimmed off beef brisket and twice smoked, which she will have on her menu along with an assortment of other low-and-slow smoked meats.
Love, a Downey High grad, has a long history in Modesto restaurants and an equally long resume as a chef. She has graduated from two of the country’s top culinary schools: the International Culinary Center and The Culinary Institute of America. Her last venture was as executive chef and general manager of Cow Pig Bun in Maui, Hawaii.
Cooking runs in the family for Love. Her father, Ron Bailey, owned the successful Howdy’s Hot Dogs on Ninth Street for much of the 1980s. In 2010, she and her brother opened their own downtown Modesto restaurant on J Street, steps away from where her father’s once stood, in homage of him. And like their dad’s place, Rotten Ron’s specialized in hot dogs and hamburgers. Her eatery, which is now the home of Taqueria Cardenas, was open for about a year.
After Rotten Ron’s closed, Love went to the The Culinary Institute of America and it was there she fell in love with, as she calls it, “pigs and fire.” She has since studied in Georgia with barbecue pit master Myron Mixon, one of the winningest men on the professional barbecue circuit. She then spent a year working in Hawaii, but came back to Modesto because her husband was having medical issues. That was about 18 months ago.
“When I came back I said it’s time, with my knowledge and my education to bring this to Modesto,” she said.
She also knew she wanted to be back in downtown, and they began looking at properties. The building at 822 Ninth St., across from the Taco Bell and Modesto Arch, caught her eye. The site once had a little bánh mì sandwich shop in its lower level, and also a bit of a sorted past with string of bars from the Palm Gardens to Banana Joe’s. Upstairs, meanwhile, were rooms for rent — allegedly by the hour. It has since been renovated and revived, with offices upstairs.
Love’s restaurant will take up the bottom floor and is being built from the cement foundation up. She has been working on it since last September and already signed a long-term (like really long-term, 16 years) lease on the space. The inside will feature seating for about 45 and a fast-casual concept with people ordering at the counter. She will be open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Her menu will be packed with the best styles of barbecue from across the country: Texas beef brisket, St. Louis ribs, Carolina pulled pork, Kansas burnt ends and southern chicken and waffles.
“I figure if I’m going to take the time to smoke it, I might as well pull in all of the best styles of barbecue and serve that together,” she said.
And speaking of all that smoking, the restaurant will have two commercial indoor smokers that can hold 2,000-pounds of meat. As a nod to the Central Valley, they will run on almond wood. All of the sauces and rubs will be made in house. The longest smoking meat will be the beef brisket which takes about eight hours from start to finish. And, of course, you can’t have good barbecue without beer, so the joint will serve beer and wine.
Love, a rare female chef in the often male-dominated world of professional barbecue, has no plans of slowing down. She hopes to have The Burnt End open in Modesto by the second week in June. And she already has talked with representatives from the Turlock Planning Commission about opening a second site there. And after that, who knows.
While the opening is still a little ways off, you can already get a feel for its atmosphere with two large outside murals on the building. The first, on the restaurant’s southeast side, is a large completed painting that depicts butcher diagrams. The second on the opposite side is a work-in-progress depicting Modesto with nods to George Lucas and the valley’s rich agricultural history. Both were commissioned and done by Modesto tattoo artist Vincent Cabrera.
Now, all this barbecue talk no doubt has you hungry. But don’t fear, Love has a little something planned to tide you over. On May 17, as part of the Third Thursday Art Walk, she is hosting the TBE Art Extravaganza at the restaurant site. Cabrera will be painting and have some of his artwork on display and there also will be music and giveaways. Oh, and did I mention they’ll be giving out free barbecue samples? It will run from 5 to 9 p.m., so get in line behind me.
Elsewhere around the Business Beat:
Grand Events has completed its move from its longtime spot on North McHenry Avenue to its new location on Dale Road across from Vintage Faire Mall.
The party supplies store had been in its McHenry Avenue spot for about 20 years, but lost its lease, according to owner Ray Pogue. The new spot, in the same shopping center as Trader Joe’s and Big 5 Sporting Goods, is in the same location as the former The Party Guys — another party supply store also owned by Pogue that closed about two years ago.
The new Grand Events will be open at 3250 Dale Road, Suite I, by April 6. Its hours will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information call 209-569-0399.