Charlie Johnson of Q Fanatic has studied countless regional barbecue styles — including Native American influences and sauces from Scotland — to perfect his recipes at Q Fanatic.
The restaurant, first opened in Champlin, has been featured on the show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Since the publicity, a map at the restaurant became covered with pins marking customers’ far-flung hometowns, and they’re opening a second location with an eye to airport access.
“We get business from around the world,” Johnson said.
The soft opening at the former Somos Peru restaurant at 6009 Nicollet Ave. S. includes sliced brisket and pulled pork sandwiches. Johnson showcases a loosely Memphis-style rub and Kansas City-style sauces. He’s using a gluten-free fryer and a conveyor oven that will allow ribs to be finished in sauce.
Johnson grew up on a farm in Central Minnesota, and he’s worked in the food industry for 35 years. He said that when he opened his first location in a strip mall, he didn’t have much money to spend on the build-out.
“We did what we could with the equipment we had,” he said. “Then we slowly raised the bar. … Food is the primary concern.”