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Ring Up Your Ribs on the Husky Hog BBQ Hotline

By Casey Cora | September 18, 2014 7:13am
 The Armour Square barbecue joint has debuted a new phone order system for smoked ribs.
The Armour Square barbecue joint has debuted a new phone order system for smoked ribs.
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DNAinfo/Casey Cora

ARMOUR SQUARE — Like all revolutionary ideas, the rib hotline at Husky Hog BBQ was born out of necessity.

Joe Woodel, the Tennessee native who opened a brick-and-mortar version of his popular food truck, said he'd been overestimating the amount of food he'd need to prepare at his new digs and ended up wasting many racks of ribs.

"My cooks loved it but I didn't," he said.

Behold: The made-to-order ribs hotline.

Hungry patrons can call the restaurant at 773-442-2769, triggering Woodel and his crew to smoke your ribs to order — just tell them the time you'd like to pick 'em up. Prices vary, but they're generally $12 for a half-rack and $24 for a full rack.

"It helps me control costs but for the customer, I can smoke them just for that person. That way they're getting the best of the best, the best of what I can do," he said.

The ribs are served on Fridays and Saturdays only, but orders can be taken throughout the week.

Woodel opened the restaurant, 335 W. 31st St., in July — replacing Mr. Spanky's sandwich shop — and has since knocked down a counter, done away with the stools and installed picnic tables with seating for up to 18. There's a fresh coat of paint outside and inside, along with a big new sign out front.

He's also gearing up a delivery service for the wintertime.

"Not bad for a redneck," he quipped.

As the Husky Hog BBQ food truck continues to roll around Chicago, Woodel said the transition to a real South Side storefront had been challenging for many reasons — the city's slow permitting process and catering to the neighborhood's diverse tastes among them. 

"I still get asked every day for rib tips and hot links. It's been a challenge to teach people about Southern-style barbecue," he said.

Typically, that means cooking the meats with a dry rub only, with no glaze of barbecue sauce applied during the preparation.

But piles of sauced meats are what Chicagoans expect and Woodel said he was happy to oblige.

The menu, full of smoked beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken, is also expanding to include specials like burnt-ends chili, fried green tomatoes and a mashed potato side dish made with garlic that is smoked over cherry wood then whipped into the spuds. 

Woodel, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Lauren, said he's still finding a groove and establishing a customer base in the surrounding neighborhood, which include a diverse mix of IIT students, Chinatown residents and the guys from the nearby Old Neighborhood Italian American Club.

"This is a whole different thing than I'm used to," he said.

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