Restaurant owner’s son makes barbecue sauce to develop recipe that is just right

Woody and Andy

Woody Stalboerger, left, and son Andy own and operate Woody’s Bar and Grill in downtown Greenwald. After many years of searching for the perfect barbecue sauce, Andy finally decided to make his own, introducing Woody’s Original last year. Andy said they have sold more than 2,000 units out of the restaurant since last fall.

By EMILIE THIESSEN, Staff Writer
emilie.thiessen@ecm-inc.com

Andy Stalboerger has been searching for good barbecue sauce recipes much of his life, but has had little luck.

“I like barbecue sauce, but  I was never able to find one that was just right,” he said.

In the past, Andy said he had friends who developed their own barbecue sauce recipes, and he was always interested in doing something similar.

Time and space was
always an issue, however, keeping him from inventing that perfect recipe. But for Andy, everything changed four years ago.

Andy’s father, Woody, heard of an auction happening in a former bar in downtown Greenwald. Woody said he was interested in bidding for some of the old equipment only and never thought he would be leaving the auction as the new owner of the entire building.

“The auctioneer, a friend of mine, talked me into putting up a bid — not knowing that I was going to be the only bid,” he said.

That was in August 2007, and by October of that year, Woody’s Bar and Grill was born in downtown Greenwald.

Woody had owned Woody’s Bar in Waite Park from 1982 to 1990, but had little experience with owning and operating a restaurant.

“It was pretty nerve racking,” he said. “I didn’t know how to turn a grill on.”

That is where Andy came in, who had worked in the food business for many years and had a great deal of experience preparing and serving food.

Andy and Woody got started right away, figuring out how to make a unique name for themselves amidst the many other bars and restaurants in the area.

“We looked at what everyone didn’t have,” Andy said, adding that they wanted to stay away from all-you-can-eat buffets and a standard burger menu. “We concentrated on starting with a better product … we wanted to offer good fresh-made food.”

Andy said they specialize in beer-battered or broiled walleye and shrimp, along with barbecue ribs — one of the dishes that prompted Andy’s barbecue venture.

Andy started by serving one of his original barbecue sauce recipes with the ribs and barbecue chicken, as well as a dip for fries. Andy said the response was terrific.
Customers started asking Andy to supply containers that they could bring extra sauce home in. After a while, Andy simply started bottling the sauce in canning jars to meet demand.

“It started to get to the point that I was doing enough of it and actually losing money, because of the cost of the jars,” he said.

Once Andy found the
perfect jar — and got clearance from the county
inspector — Andy officially released Woody’s Original Barbecue Sauce in the fall
of 2010.

“We started with Woody’s Original Barbecue Sauce and it caught on so fast,” Andy said.

Soon after, Andy added three new flavors: Three Pepper, Seasonal Spiced Apple and Habanero. In the past year, Andy has sold more than 2,000 units to customers coming into the
restaurant.

“Before Christmas of last year, I couldn’t make enough,” Andy said. “It has a life of its own now.”

Andy said people have given his barbecue sauce as gifts, coupling it with a gift certificate to the restaurant, something that has really helped sales of the sauce and increased business for his
father at the restaurant.

“I think it is great,” Woody said, adding that he hopes to see his son continue making the barbecue sauce and perhaps even grow the business.

Winters are the best time for Andy to hole-up in the kitchen to tweak established recipes or experiment with new ones. Because Woody won the entire building in the auction — including a full second story that was a former dance hall and a full basement — Andy said he is lucky to have so much space to work with.

If production reaches more than 10,000 units a year, Andy said he and his father would have to apply for new permits, a welcomed step for someone who is
eager for growth.

“I would like to see it get bigger,” Andy said. ‘We will grow a little bit every
winter.”

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