Latest updated information
May 12, 2020
At this time, I'd like to thank you for visiting our website, to stay up to date, with all the current information, regarding the future of Uncle Bo's Slow-n-Low.
The following update is lengthy, but it is needed, to help answer many of the questions you have, and seem to keep getting asked of me, over and over. So rather than explain it, over and over, I have decided to create a message, that people can read, to help understand our current situation.
After many days/weeks of heartfelt and in-depth consideration. We have decided to close our doors, on this coming Sunday, May 17th, 2020. This decision wasn't taken lightly and was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make.
There are a number of reasons for this decision, the biggest being the current meat shortage and more specifically the "specialty meat shortage". Allow me to explain, because many do not understand the vast difference.
We smoke beef, pork, chicken and sausage here at Uncle Bo's. However, we ONLY use the 2 chest plates (the briskets muscle), from the cattle, we only use 2 back pork ("Baby Back") ribs and only 2 bone in pork butts, from each hog; these are "specialty meats". What does this mean?
Well we typically smoke, in a weeks time, 100 to 150 brisket and 150-250 racks of back ribs and 30-50 shoulders.
If we cannot find these, at a national level (through a reputable and USDA approved food supplier), our only other option, is to source it locally; here's why this CANNOT WORK.
Since there are only 2 chest plates, on the cattle, we would need to have a local farmer be able to provide 75 cattle a week and because each hog only has two back ribs and two "butts" 75 to 125 hogs each week ....MINIMAL! This just isn't possible and I'm sure you can understand that.
Some have suggested that I visit the local butcher; these guys are able to produce meat products for the general public, but they also buy at "wholesale prices", butcher the animal and sell the selections at "retail prices", in order for them to be profitable. So, they don't "mass produce, for restaurants (of my size) needs, they are more of a "home provider". Many people have even messaged me about local places, like Fligners, Vermillion farm market, or Polanski's who are advertising they "have no shortages" and that maybe I should "check them out". I have, believe me and they (again), buy at wholesale and sell at retail, from some of the same "packing plants" still in operation. The prices they are asking is too far out of line, for me to make any kind of profit, I would be cooking to feed people and in some cases paying for people to come here and eat. This is not a way to stay in business. So, not an option.
Speaking of these "packing" companies, I have even called them (in Sandusky, PA, and Michigan) directly and spoke to their "senior sales reps". In a nut shell, here's what they said. "We are not taking on any new clients, at this time, normally we would allow you to place and order and come pick it up, on "will call", pay for the product and we would then load it up, on the docks and send you on your way. however, at this time, we are not allowing "will calls" and the plant is shut down to all outside sources, until further notice". So, even this is NOT AN OPTION!
Listen, I know that people are trying to help me and I realize that this "advice" is coming from a love of what we offer here, and not wanting to see us close our doors. But with all due respect, I didn't get this far, without having some form of drive, problem solving skills and intelligence. I have done everything, in my power, to find a way to solve this; closing this place, is an absolute LAST RESORT, but if I want to "save it", I have to think outside the box and look at what I can do, to save it.
This means that I need to "reduce my overhead"; it is VERY EXPENSIVE to run this entire building and many do not realize that the cost of my products, has to cover all most all of these expenses. When there is little (in this case none) products, at a reasonable price for me to "produce" my products, there's not going to be enough to sustain being able to cover these costs. For example, I HAVE to be able to sell that 150-250 back ribs, in order to generate the money needed to pay for these costs. If I can only find 50-75 of those ribs (each week), at a fair price, then I cannot generate the money needed, only about half of it. Does this make sense? So then the smart thing to do would be to close the doors and reduce the overhead needed, to be able to afford to keep paying the basic bills needed to keep this place.
If I'm not using water, I have no water bill. If I'm not using waste removal (from not producing any waste), then I have no waste removal bill. If I'm not using gas, I have no gas bill. If I can turn EVERTHING off, no walk in cooler, no beer coolers, no lighting and so on, then my electric bill will ONLY need to cover enough to keep the electricity on for lighting, when needed, but more importantly, it will be left on to cover my security alarm, cameras and fire monitoring. My insurance rates will go down, because there is NOBODY coming in that could get hurt, or sick from a possible food poisoning incident (not that there is ever a risk of this, as we are extremely well cleaned and maintained), but the insurance company still rates my coverage, by the amount of people coming through the door, more specifically, my "sales" for the month.
My point is simply that I can get this overhead down, during this pandemic and the rippling effects that it is having on our economy and more importantly, this "meat shortage", and in doing so, I can afford to keep the business and then, at some point, when things come back to normal, I can do a "GRAND REOPENING". But, this cannot happen, if I don't make the right moves, RIGHT NOW!
My property taxes are up to date, my insurance is paid, so I have elected to close these doors, TEMPORARLY, to allow me to save this business, by only having the minimal amount of costs as possible.
As we see things "come back to normal", we will reopen. When will this happen? I have NO IDEA, but what I can tell you is that, from everything that I've heard and read, these meat shortages and by default, the prices, are projected to be this way through the rest of the summer and into early fall, if not longer. So, I am telling my customers/family and friends, that we will most likely NOT be opening again, until the spring of 2021. If it's sooner than that, then great, but if it's not, at least I've set a timeframe for people to know when to expect us to reopen.
Now, how am I going to make the money needed to sustain my own personal life, as well as the money needed to sustain this building, during my closer?
I have a commercial kitchen trailer and this opens me up to a lot of possibilities. The first one is that I can use it to hit many of the fairs and events, and even catering in this area. However, the problem with this is many of these are rumored to be canceled this year, due to this pandemic. Additionally, there will still be the "meat shortage and pricing issue" to deal with. So, this will not be an option for this year anyway. So, what would be the right move?
Well, after living and working in Las Vegas, for a number of years, I know that their economy will rebound much faster than here. Sure tourism is virtually nonexistent right now, but it will bounce back, as the casinos open. Together with the airline industry they will partner up to offer greatly reduced room and airline rates, just to attract people to come back.
Do you know why the sales of alcohol increased, over 250%, during this pandemic? Because people simply like to drink and party their worries away. So, I personally believe there are going to be thousands and thousands of people looking to flock to these TYPE of tourist destinations, in order to relieve their stress and the effects of being "pent up", for so, long.
Maybe I'm wrong, but even if I am, there is a population there of nearly 3 million people (in a valley that is roughly 35 miles wide, by 37 miles long), versus our local population here. This means the odds are in my favor to have the ability to produce and sell more product in a shorter amount of time, when these meat prices begin to come down, in late summer, or early fall. Remember, Uncle Bo's (as a BBQ catering company), got our start in Las Vegas; so we have a HUGE following there as well as Arizona.
So, in Las Vegas, they have what's essentially amounts to a "food truck foodie festival" in a casino parking lot, each weekend. It's hosted by a different casino each week; it attracts thousands of locals and tourists alike, to these events. So, my plan, at this point, is to head out to Las Vegas, with my BBQ trailer and get into this circuit, for the fall and winter. This will allow me the time needed to be set up with all my city and state licensing, health department inspections and food card handlers permits, that I'll need to get into this circuit, when things begin to "come back to normal"; I'll be ready. While at the same time, reducing my costs, at this location.
In the end, I have to survive and my business needs to survive. I believe these decisions are the best thing that I can do, to make this happen. Now, I know some of you will understand completely and others will not; they'll critique my every move, tell me that I'm wrong, or that there has to be another way. The bottom line is that I created this brand, I nurtured and developed this company and my team and myself have poured or hearts and soul into this. Each decision that I've made, thus far, has been a winner. Even down to closing my Arizona restaurant location and relocating my business and coming home, to Elyria Ohio, to open this place. So many people thought I was "foolish", that I was setting myself up for failure, that it would never work here; from time to time, I still hear how dumb I was for my decision.
Well, to those people, I can only say that "the proof is in the pudding", apparently I was right. Because this place FLOURSIHED and is STILL RATED THE TOP restaurant in Lorain County. We're now up for the "Best of Cleveland" award for the best BBQ in Northeast Ohio
(If you haven't voted, please do so at the following website: https://cleveland.cityvoter.com/uncle-bo-s-slow-n-low-bbq/biz/718232?fbclid=IwAR2eIeMsgdXw8-UirphtwM1uPQ5lOF5E5IBbrJKVDdjvdHzDP1fTcOHaZzk)
This must make these type of peoples skin crawl, to see and know this. As always, I don't listen to the "haters", I instead feed off of them and in the end, they just make me try harder.
Listen friends, I didn't get this far by being a dummy and I didn't give up my restaurant in AZ, and come here, invest all this money, time and effort into this place, just to lose it without at least putting up a good fight. As, I've said many times before, this is home and I WANT TO BE HERE, or I would have never gone through everything I did, to come here and open up. So, don't think this is the end of Uncle Bo's, in this area, if I have anything to say in the matter, it's going to be a TEMPORARY closure.
So, at this time, I want to say, from my heart.....THANK YOU!
To my staff: I know this is disappointing for you, as much as it is for me. This is my life long American Dream, and proof that hard work and dedication can pay off. I always give my young family members the following advice: "When you want something bad enough, you'll do whatever it takes to make it happen, and when you don't want it bad enough, you find excuses". So, we'll be back!
I know this is home for you and I know many of you have told me that you have never enjoyed working for anyone, as much as you have for Uncle Bo's, but it's I, that need to thank you, for all of your hard work and dedication; you made our customers feel welcome and like family and that's all I've really ever asked for, so thank you! This isn't over, it's just a setback, that needs to happen to save this business. This company has grown, by leaps and bounds an it will continue to do so, because of people like you.
Thank you everyone!
With much love and admiration,