Reading one of my columns recently, my husband said, “People must think all you do is go around and eat.”
Wish that were the case, but this job does have its perks. This past week, it led me to some really good barbecue.
Fasty’s BBQ Joint, which is part food truck, part fruit stand, opened in January on Highway 108 in Oakdale. It’s just east of the rodeo grounds, so I suspect it is particularly busy this weekend.
Owner Rob Geisler has a neat story: He worked in oil and gas exploration in Texas. He met and married a woman from Modesto and moved out here. The marriage ended, but Geisler wanted to stay near his sons, 9 and 11. “And I fell in love with Oakdale,” he said.
The options for oil and gas work locally are limited, and Geisler wanted a job that would keep him near his sons. And he’d always wanted to open a barbecue place.
As it turns out, Geisler had worked in a barbecue restaurant in Corpus Christi, learning skills to augment a lifelong hobby he shared with his father. As my own father often said, there is no barbecue like Texas barbecue.
So he ordered a custom-made truck, with grill attached, from a company in Georgia, and set about looking for a spot to land. What he found is perfect – a former fruit stand with room for parking and a fenced-in house behind it. The day photographer Andy Alfaro and I visited, one of Geisler’s sons was home sick from school, in the house just a few yards away. Geisler has freshly painted the fruit stand orange and white to match the truck (University of Texas colors), and has plans to put in an ordering counter and more.
Fasty’s – the name came from Geisler’s childhood nickname – also has the best job interview story I have ever heard. Early on, Geisler and a single employee were filling orders in the truck when Geisler sliced open his finger pretty badly. He quickly wrapped it up and called out to the next customer that it would be a few minutes. Beverly Stevens, a retired nurse’s assistant and former restaurant owner, happened to be in line with her husband.
“We had heard the food was good and wanted to try it,” she said. Stevens hustled to her nearby home, got a medical kit, came back and bandaged up Geisler’s finger. Then she stuck around to help serve customers – and landed herself a job.
Fasty’s serves up ribs, turkey and pulled pork. Geisler also gets sausage sent to him from Texas. And, because he’s in California and, he said, “when in Rome,” Geisler makes tri-tip. This was something he had to learn, being more familiar with brisket. It’s a tricky meat to get right, he said; sirloin tends to be chewy if not done just right, and it can dry out. He said he adjusted the cooking time and the seasoning until he had it the way he wanted.
Now, he said, “It’s some of the best meat I’ve ever tasted.” Me, too. And the homemade barbecue sauce is pretty perfect, as well. Other people must agree, because Geisler sells out nearly every day.
Find Fasty’s at 1936 E. F St., Oakdale. The truck is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (or until it sells out) Wednesday through Sunday. Call 209-493-0375.
Elsewhere around the Business Beat:
As my colleague Erin Tracy reported, there was an unfortunate event at one of Modesto’s niftiest places last week: a fire in the attic of Yesterday’s Books. The fire started – and stopped – in the attic of the building on Monday morning. Firefighters had to open the ceiling and pull out insulation, so while the damage was limited and the books remained unscathed, a pretty major cleanup operation was necessary.
The used bookstore has been posting updates on its Facebook page. After an electrician checked out the wiring, cleanup began in earnest Friday. Here’s hoping the work is finished quickly and we can soon get back to browsing the shelves for a new adventure.
And finally, there’s been some confusion over the opening of the new Five Guys at Crossroads shopping center in Riverbank. A news release came in Monday that indicated the popular hamburger restaurant had opened. I sent out a tweet to that effect before checking with the people at the site. I promise, that was not meant as a late April Fool’s joke.
Workers at the restaurant said the actual opening date is Monday, April 11. A sign in the door had the same information.