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McClure's Barbecue on the Move

by Ryan Sparks

After several months of using the familiar environs of Dante’s Kitchen as a home base for his burgeoning BBQ venture, Neil McClure is cutting the apron strings and taking steps towards a permanent location.  For now, though, McClure will be bringing his wood-fire smoked beef, pork, chicken, and ribs to other neighborhoods through alternative pop-up arrangements.


He has built up a good reputation and clientele by working five days a week at Dante’s, but he says, “I need to not be working 75 hours a week if I’m going to concentrate on getting my own space together.”  


Right now his pared-back schedule will include Fridays at the Rusty Nail, home of a patio that he calls, “one of the best in the city.”  McClure is serving up combo plates and sandwiches to fresh-air fetishists and is working on sliders for the late night crowd as well. Other pop-ups are to be determined, and his attention is also slightly divided as he prepares to be part of a large, ambitious team competing in the World BBQ Championship contest that is part of Memphis in May, a festival that rivals Jazz Fest in size and scope.


As far as finding a permanent home, McClure is currently evaluating a spot between Lee Circle and Oretha C Haley Blvd that could be convenient to both CBD workers and denizens of that slowly evolving Central City neighborhood.


Right now the property doesn’t look like much, but McClure says, “I'm going for the 'I don't give a shit what my building looks like...I’m selling good BBQ’ approach since I don't really have any money to do this all fancy like on Freret or Magazine.”


Convivial utility seems to be his aim.  Right now he is avoiding bank officers by lining up some financial backing from friends and acquaintances from around the country he’s entertained over the past decade.  


McClure’s BBQ will continue to serve lunch at Dante’s through Friday, the 27th.  His last dinner service there will be Tuesday, May 1st, of which a recent FB post says, “Don't miss that last dinner...I'm going to ‘bring it’ so to speak.”

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