CAMDEN—Restaurants operating in a pandemic have had to make enormous changes in order to stay afloat. Gabriela Acero and Derek Richard, a couple featured in our recent story “wolfpeach, a new chophouse with a Maine twist, to open in Camden,” have reviewed their original restaurant plans under these circumstances. Their restaurant, wolfpeach, has not yet opened. Instead, they have decided to kick off their grand opening this spring as a barbeque joint until the industry inches back to normal.
“We knew that wolfpeach wasn’t going to work without doing indoor dining,” said Acero. “Originally, we planned on offering wolfpeach’s food as a take-out model, but we decided it would be more practical to offer modified barbeque takeout as a temporary placeholder until we feel it's truly safe to open for indoor dining.”
Dickie Steels’ BBQ is the new plan for the time being. “The name comes from our LLC, which is a play on Derek’s last name and my last name, which means ‘steel’ in Spanish,” said Acero.
Richard’s background as a chef has been mostly in fine dining in New York and Texas before he moved to Maine.
“I was trying to figure out which food would be ideal for takeout,” said Richard. When I was in Austin, I helped a good friend open his own barbeque restaurant, so I thought this would be fun and challenging to do Texas-style barbeque in the meantime.”
The couple procured a hand-built smoker from a Belfast metalsmith, which they plan to put in their backyard patio. “We plan to put it in the area where we might offer outdoor dining if we run with this model through the summer,” said Richard.
With the smoker, Richard will be offering innovative Texas barbeque reinterpreted with Maine ingredients, similar to their wolfpeach chophouse concept. “Texas barbeque is mostly dry-rubbed meat, not heavily sauced,” said Richard.
With brisket and beef sourced from Maine, Dickie Steels’ BBQ will also offer smoked seafood, such as fish collars, which are cut along the fish clavicle, right behind the gills, and are substantive enough to hold up in a smoker. Another offering will be skate wing. “Any seafood that can handle longer cook times, we’ll use and wrap in seaweed,” said Richard.
Side dishes will also be traditional Texas-style with Maine seasonal ingredients, such as Richard’s sourdough potato rolls in lieu of cornbread and a locally-raised smoked-eel dirty rice. Honing in on Maine’s bean industry, Richard will riff on the traditional baked beans side dish with trout beans and Jacob’s Cattle Beans.
“Dickie Steels’ BBQ might even have its own identity down the line and if it’s successful, we may open it as a second restaurant in the future,” said Acero. Once restaurant indoor seating returns to full capacity, the couple plans to switch over to their original steak-and-seafood chophouse with robust vegetable options.
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Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org