WEST ROGERS PARK — Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse owner Jared Leonard opened a "barbecue bed and breakfast" this summer on the Rock River in Wisconsin.
But it's more meat smokers brimming with brisket, pork shoulder and ribs than a hoity-toity getaway.
Leonard's Rock River BBQ Ranch in Beloit, Wisconsin, soon will be available for overnight stays, day trips and barbecue classes.
Ben Woodard says the BBQ BnB might just be heaven:
"I recognize people like to cook barbecue while they’re on vacation. They have a whole day, they have a group of people to feed," he said. "But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smoker at a vacation rental."
The 2-acre property includes a four-bedroom house, outdoor smokers, 140 feet of waterfront with a fishing pier and dock, and a six-car garage, which Leonard plans to outfit with "all the toys these barbecue guys would love to have in the city but don’t have room."
Leonard has been teaching three-hour classes at his Western Avenue restaurant for years. But students never could have the experience there of cooking a brisket for the full 16 hours required.
"Most people don’t want to sit in a storefront on Western Avenue for 16 hours," he said.
So he started looking at property, and found the home just over the Illinois-Wisconsin border — about 90 miles away.
"Our goal was to bring people to property that’s on the water and outside of the city that’s outfitted with smokers," he said. "Beyond that, we didn’t care where it was."
This year, Leonard said, things are going to be "pretty casual" at the ranch so he can set up the smokers, finish remodeling and set rates for classes and rent.
"We're going to let it evolve," he said. "In its very basic form, people could rent it just to get out of the city."
For those looking for a more immersive barbecue experience, Leonard has plans to fully stock commercial refrigerators with meat from local farms and turn over the keys to renters.
"The ranch is just a chance for everyone, including me, to get out of the city and cook barbecue and fish," he said. "We're excited to see where this goes."
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