small bites

The Butcher BBQ Stand

By Kim Hickerson / Photography By Aaron Snow | April 26, 2017
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From the open window of a converted train car right off Route 66, Levi Bouska, owner and pitmaster of The Butcher BBQ Stand, serves trays filled with mouthwatering ribs, tender brisket, and flavorful chicken. Geographically, Bouska hasn’t traveled far from his barbecue roots to get to where he is today. This spot is within shouting distance of his grandfather’s old place. But it has been a journey nonetheless.

He reflects back to his childhood, when he was around five years old: “My grandparents had just purchased a historical local restaurant, Pioneer Camp BBQ. I remember being up in the smoker room late nights watching my grandpa, PaPa, move ribs and whole hams around on this big direct heat brick pit.”

After 34 years of running meat markets, Bouska’s father, David, the butcher from whom the place derives its name, and his Uncle Martin started entering barbecue competitions. The pair won countless awards and ribbons before ultimately taking home the world championship.

“I wouldn't say that it is what got me started cooking barbecue, but I would say by 18-19 years old, I started taking it way more seriously. I realized that there is a true science to barbecue and how important the attention to detail is for the whole process,” Bouska explains. “I learned a ton of basics from an early age growing up in the restaurant, but I would say that I honed my knowledge and skills from my father for sure.”

The simplicity of that first restaurant coupled with the family’s passion for the craft set the stage for Bouska’s own unpretentious success story. The Butcher BBQ Stand presents customers with outdoor picnic tables and a metal roof for a little protection from the weather, but patrons don’t come for the comfort of the seating. They come for the comfort and the consistency of the food.

“I will throw ribs or briskets in the trash during service if they don't feel right or slice right. In a competition, you don't put anything in your turn-in box unless you want it to be judged,” Bouska explains. “So I don't want to put out any food that's not to a certain standard I want, and people who drive for hours or even just a couple of miles deserve that.”

The Butcher BBQ Stand approach relies on consistency and attention to detail. The place is the Bouska family’s way of competing with itself for top prize by presenting their barbecue to the public for judging. They serve high quality meat and high quality products. The popular side dish, Baked Apple Pie Beans, comes straight from Bouska’s father’s beloved holiday recipe. Everything they cook, they cook just right.

Currently, The Butcher BBQ Stand is in the midst of building a new smokehouse to keep up with the volume and to create space to smoke turkeys. Also underway is a renovated school bus turned gift shop that will carry a full line of gift and take-home items, such as barbecue swag, rubs, sauces, and injections.

> The Butcher BBQ Stand, 3402 West Highway 66, Wellston

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