In the mid 80s, after spending 15 years working in the service industry and opening restaurants for other companies, Mark’s Feed Store founder and owner Mark Erwin decided it was time to branch out on his own. He brainstormed multiple concepts before deciding that what Louisville needed was a top-notch barbecue restaurant.
“I had a lot of restaurant and managerial experience but I didn’t have a lot of barbecue experience, so I went down to learn from some old masters in Western Kentucky,” Erwin explained. “I studied with them and brought their techniques back home, where I discovered and created my own sauces.”
Erwin recalls his kitchen at home looking like “a science project” as he worked tirelessly for a full month to create his signature original sauce, which is comprised of a tangy mixture of 26 ingredients including a top-secret blend of 13 spices.
To ensure that the restaurant’s setting was as authentic as the barbecue, Erwin selected a historic building that had housed Hancock’s Feed Store for over half a century as the location for his Middletown restaurant. Old-fashioned pits were installed in the kitchen, using Erwin’s notes and photographs taken during his time with the barbecue masters as blueprints. Erwin still recalls cooking his first-ever pork shoulder in these pits on the eve of the restaurant’s opening.
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