Barbeque restaurant in Romeo is no joke and plenty of smoke

bbq2I headed out to the northern part of Macomb County to a quaint little village called Romeo. A village with good-hearted people and a good share of restaurants of all types that many small towns would be jealous to have. My heart was set on a great barbeque sandwich, and that is exactly what I found.

I ran into Denise and Sarah Stanko, a couple of locals looking to make a purchase at the Jayell Smoke House at 221 ½ N Bailey in Romeo. I decided to ask them, “Why this barbeque restaurant?” They turned to me with big friendly smiles and said they have literally tried everything there, and it is all good. They really like the place because Dave or his wife Erin are the ones making the food and waiting on them. The service and food are always consistently good. They really like that it is family-owned and that they sell many Michigan-made products.

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Dave Leidlein, the owner of Jayell Smoke House. It was one of the coldest days of the year, and I was happy to be inside smelling great-tasting barbeque and having a cold black cherry cola out of a bottle. You have to go with a glass bottle when drinking ice cold pop, and Dave had plenty to choose from. I’m sorry to all my aluminum can and plastic bottle friends, but that is no way to have a black cherry cola. It is like putting a fine wine into a sippy cup – how dastardly!

A fun fact is that Dave actually was going to school for political science since his grandfather and father were in politics, and this brought him to southeastern Michigan. Lucky for all the barbeque food lovers, Dave did not get into politics and started to follow his passion for food.  He made the decision to get into the food industry, first working for a distribution company in sales and then catering out of a business in Macomb County. He finally pulled the trigger after being on the news with his product line of rubs and BBQ sauce, and Dave opened Jayell Smoke House in July 2017.

He started with about five rubs and BBQ sauces and grew really fast to 12 sauces and 40 rubs. They work with Sherwood Brewery for the Roger City Porter BBQ sauce and IPA rub. They have good customer traffic and want to be part of the beautiful community. They had the patio open for the Romeo Peach Festival, and try to include themselves in any fun event downtown.

They are known to use Michigan landmarks for their BBQ names like the Romeo Peach Habanero which is the No. 1 seller. On the website, you can purchase rubs and BBQ sauces along with joining the rub club to have products sent to your house once a month. Tell me that is not a perfect present for your Uncle Billy who thinks he is a pitmaster with rib meat that falls right off the bone.

The mostly takeout restaurant has a great feel with metal and warm, dark wood and enough space for about three people to sit down to have a quick sandwich. In the summer, you can stretch your legs more and dine outside on their patio which sits back far off the road. You can relax and talk with your friends while having a great meal and at times listen to some guitar playing from a local musician. They also do special menu pricing and events. For example, on Jan. 7 they had special pricing on a slab of ribs. How lucky where those customers when they found that out?

The most important thing for you to know about this fine story is that when I ate that cut brisket sandwich, I had a huge smile on my face and actually said out loud, “This is amazing.” Somebody told me once that anybody can make a pulled pork sandwich, but only people who know what they are doing can make a good brisket sandwich. Well I’m here to say Jayell Smoke House is doing it right, and if you know what’s right, you’ll make your way out there!

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Jack Johns is a project coordinator within the economic development services group. He specializes in serving the food and agricultural industry as well as automation, robotics, connected vehicles, energy and retail businesses.

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One Guy Making a Pizza Pie – With a Little Help

The one thing I have no interest in doing is cooking. There is nothing around the house I’m afraid to tackle, but I just really dislike cooking. When I want to eat, I just want to eat and not be in the kitchen for an hour. Some people enjoy it and even invite friends over to show them how they mastered their barbecue. Whatever! I find it beyond painful and prefer to specialize in eating. That is why this next part is so surprising.

I met a couple of firefighters during a business meeting who were talking about their plans to take over the world with a great new seasoning packet that you add to tomato paste for pizza and add to tomatoes for pasta sauce. Again, I don’t cook so I looked at them and said, “Really? Just add this to the tomatoes, and I will look like someone who knows what he is doing in the kitchen?”

On a side note, my father was a volunteer firefighter for 15 years for Macomb Township so I thought these two guys were probably trustworthy.

I went to the store and got an already-made pizza crust, some already-cut cheese and some tomato paste and mixed in their Just Add Tomatoes special seasoning packet. I put it all together like I have seen it done a million times at many of my favorite pizza locations. I put it in the oven for the amount of time it said on the back of the crust directions, and BAM! It was ready for consumption.

My wife walked in and almost passed out for I was making the best-looking pizza in the land. Let me tell you, I was pretty proud of this masterpiece, and yes, it was really easy to do. It tasted really good, and I may even make some spaghetti sauce in the future because of how easy Just Add Tomatoes seasoning packet was to use. The best part was my wife was very happy to see that I tried my hand at cooking and did not burn down the kitchen.

If you would like to learn more about Just Add Tomatoes, please go to their website at www.justaddtomatoespizzasauce.com.

 

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Jack Johns is a Project Coordinator within the economic development services group. He specializes in serving the food and agricultural industry as well as automation, robotics, connected vehicles, energy and retail businesses.

Miller’s Big Red now offers Union Joints for weekend visitors

mbr_logo3Here is another reason to Fall in Love with Macomb and our orchards.

Every weekend this fall, Big Red will feature a “pop-up” restaurant called “Union Joints.” Union Joints features favorite menu items from Clarkston Union, Union Woodshop, Vinsetta Garage, Fenton Firehall and Union General.  And yes, the mouth-watering and award-winning Union mac-n-cheese and other favorites are available on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., or until they sell out. Reservations are not required. Order your selections at the counter and then enjoy it at the picnic tables or picnic-style on the grass.

Big Red has new owners and has undergone several significant building projects.  The new owners have been careful to maintain all the best of 50 years of tradition while appealing to a modern generation yearning to experience a little piece of the country, savory tastes, and an afternoon knee-deep in a pumpkin patch.

A trip to Big Red is not complete without a stop in the farm’s Marketplace. Brimming with farm fresh produce, made-from-scratch baked goods, gourmet condiments and other exceptional local products. While you’re here, experience the aroma, sights and sounds of cider making and the taste of homemade donuts and caramel apples. Enjoy a picnic, visit the petting farm, take a hayride, get lost in a corn maze, climb a straw mountain and even pick your own apples.

Big Red also won best Cider in Michigan in 2016!

Miller’s Big Red is located at 4900 32 Mile Road in Washington, Michigan. Check them out on facebook or at millersbigred.com

Lauri Cowhy is a senior communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Westview Orchards to feature Made-in-Michigan food products on Sundays this fall

tmp_10209_7-3-2012_23100_Beautiful Westview Orchards in Washington Township is one of Macomb County’s northern gems.  This historic farm – it has been operated by the same family for more than 200 year – has delighted generations of families with their wonderful donuts, cider and smorgasboard of family fun activities.

This fall, Westview is adding a new reason to visit them on Sundays.  In addition to the normal fall- themed events and wine tasting, Westview is teaming up with local small food businesses and providing them the opportunity to get their name out.  These businesses will be providing samples so that customers can taste before they their new locally produced favorite products.

This Sunday, Sept. 17, the Made In Michigan Barn will feature: Great Lakes Pickles, Motown Soup, and Grandma Luckey’s Herb Dressing. 

So come stuff your face with homemade donuts and cider, watch the kids play, all while getting the chance to try new products that you will not see in the big box stores yet.  With your help and Macomb County’s Economic Development team, when these small businesses turn big, you will be able to tell all your friends and family that you knew, tried and were purchasing their products before they were well known.  

If you are interested in learning more about Westview Orchards in Washington Twp, MI visit www.westvieworchards.com

Are you a local business with a food product you’d like for people to try on a future Sunday?

Please contact me at  jack.johns@macombgov.org with a little information about your product and your contact information.  (Disclaimer – This opportunity is only for products made in a commercial kitchen. We cannot accommodate entrepreneurs operating under the cottage food law and making products in their home kitchen with this venture.)

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Jack Johns is a Project Coordinator within the economic development services group. He specializes in serving the food and agricultural industry as well as automation, robotics, connected vehicles, energy and retail businesses.

Have your cake and eat it too at The Sweet Shoppe

The Sweet Shoppe is perhaps Mount Clemens’ best-kept secret.

Sweet ShoppeTucked in the corner of Gumbo’s on North Walnut Street, the charming bakery stands ready for business. Like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory, the counters are filled with delectable sweet treats—apple turnovers, lemon poppy seed muffins, cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies, and more.

Owner Christina Taite is new to the baking world, but she’s already running her business like a pro.

“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Taite says. “I’ve worked here at Gumbo’s with my mother-in-law for years. So when the opportunity arose, opening a bakery here just made sense.”

The business is a family affair. “After working 10-hour shifts at his own job, my husband Craig still comes to the shop to help me out. My daughters visit the Sweet Shoppe every day. Most of the customers know them already, because they grew up in the restaurant,” Taite adds. “It’s my daughters’ dream to own a bakery one day, so hopefully I can build something for them to take over.”

Gumbo’s, owned and operated by the Taite family, is an authentic Cajun/Creole restaurant with some of the best po’boys ever made outside of New Orleans. It’s no wonder, then, that one of Christina Taite’s favorite Sweet Shoppe items are beignets: a traditional New Orleans dessert similar to a fritter.

Sweet Shoppe 2But Taite wants you to know that her shop offers more than just delicious pastries. “We have coffee and tea, as well as floats, shakes, sundaes, and smoothies. My personal favorite is the strawberry-banana, but our mango-pineapple is very popular too.”

Another reason Taite’s products are so scrumptious? They are made with local ingredients.

“Recently I got some freshly picked blueberries from a farm near here, so I decided to make blueberry cobbler with them. And of course, all our floats are made with Faygo. Whenever I can, I try to use Michigan-based products,” says Taite.

Sweet Shoppe 3As for me, I tried the pineapple upside-down cake—warm, melty, and drizzled with caramel sauce—and immediately fell in love-at-first-taste. Now I can’t wait to go back and try everything else on the menu!

The Sweet Shoppe is open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday and from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Friday.  Whether you get dessert after a hearty meal at Gumbo’s or you just pop in for a refreshing smoothie, it’s the perfect place to indulge your sweet tooth.

JennaJenna Russell is an intern at the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She is a senior at Oakland University.

Register now for All about Food: From Farm to Fork conference

All about Food: From Farm to Fork is an annual event that is hosted at the beautiful Macomb Community College University Center and put together by the Macomb Food Collaborative. People from across the food system gather here to learn, grow and share about food. It is a great place to meet other food lovers, small business owners, agencies that regulate food safety and economic developers who work with food businesses.

Macomb Food Program pic 2There will be breakout sessions with experts discussing a variety of topics including the future of farming, dairy farm trends, conserving agricultural land, organic urban farming and the viewpoint of running a small farm in Michigan.

Your ticket gets you into all aspects of the event from the wonderful presentations, to the pop-up market, to a great lunch that satisfies many types of nutritional needs.

One of the very fun parts about the event is the pop-up market that has small business food vendors offering samples of a diverse line of products. There are also businesses offering information about many different food and health programs in the area, along with nutritional and essential oil businesses. This was a huge hit last year when the businesses were added to the event for the first time.

Macomb Food Program picThe event this year will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 6 at the University Center, 44575 Garfield Road, UC-1, Clinton Township, 48043. Signage will be at the road and main entrance.

Tickets are $30, and the deadline to register is May 30. Tickets are $35 at the door as long as there is capacity, which is not guaranteed. You can register online at www.macombfood.org (online registration fees apply) or fill out this registration form and make checks payable to the Macomb Food Collaborative. Send to Macomb Food Collaborative/MSUE, 21885 Dunham Road, suite 12, Clinton Township, 48043.

Click here to view the workshop schedule.

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Johns, Jack IMG_0030Jack Johns is a project coordinator for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development. He specializes in working with food, agriculture, energy, robotics, autonomous vehicle and retail businesses. If you are a business owner and would like to contact him, email jack.johns@macombgov.org or call (586) 469-6293.

Macomb food entrepreneur lays groundwork for growth

Daves-Sweet-ToothMarch is Food and Ag Month in Michigan. Agriculture, food processors and related businesses employ 22 percent of the state’s workforce, and the state has 2,166 licensed food processors generating nearly $25 billion in economic activity. Macomb County is no exception to this growing trend. With 502 farms spanning 67,960 acres and 1,409 food manufacturing jobs, Macomb County boasts a healthy food and agricultural industry. Here is a close-up look at the path one Harrison Township food processor is taking to build a successful food business in Macomb County.

You may have heard about Dave’s Sweet Tooth when CEO Andrew Chmielewski made the Crain’s Detroit Business “20 in their 20s” list or landed on the Forbes “30 under 30” food and drink list, or you may have even seen the company featured on Good Morning America last year. Their toffee is carried in stores across the state and country, including Kroger, Marshalls, Whole Foods Market and Nino Salvaggio, as well as sold online. They will even be featured once again on Good Morning America as the Deal of the Day tomorrow, March 30. In business for only five years, this company is expanding at an incredible rate.

Dave’s Sweet Tooth manufactures delicious handmade toffee made from Chmielewski’s father’s homemade recipe. While touring the 5,000-square-foot facility, I was able to watch workers take the cooled toffee from baking sheets and break it into pieces by hand. In another room, employees were stuffing the toffee pieces into packages. Seems simple enough. Yet, a lot of hard work went into establishing the business, and more lies ahead to ensure the company’s growth is sustainable. And that’s where the experts come in.

daves-sweet-tooth-toffee-pouch-collection_1024x1024Chmielewski is tapping into all of the resources and services available to entrepreneurs. He is currently enrolled in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s economic gardening program. The Michigan Manufacturing Technical Center is also helping the company prepare for their Safe Quality Food (SQF) inspection as well as prepare the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) plan.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is offering the company support through providing information about export programs which could help the company tap into markets in Canada, China or anywhere in the world. MDARD offers trade missions and participates in international trade shows where companies can become familiar with foreign markets and even meet one-on-one with buyers to discuss their products. The state also offers the Branding Program which reimburses companies up to 50 percent for translation services, airfare, hotel costs and vendor table space for international trips and toward expenses such as creating bilingual labels and websites geared toward a foreign market.

Jack Johns, program coordinator for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, also met with Chmielewski to discuss any needs the growing company has. Johns informed him that when Dave’s Sweet Tooth finds itself at capacity in its current space, Macomb County can help the company locate a new facility and take advantage of all the cost-saving incentives available to food processing businesses, which may include a tax abatement.

If you are a food or agricultural business in Macomb County, reach out to Johns at jack.johns@macombgov.org or call (586) 469-6293 to see what kinds of programs, incentives and partners are out there to help your business succeed.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.