Eight years ago, Q Fanatic’s Charile Johnson took a chance on opening a BBQ shop in a wee strip mall in the far-flung suburb of Champlin.
And when Cory and Koli Swap opened their BBQ and breakfast cafe Jellybean & Julia's six weeks ago, they were taking an even bigger chance.
They’re less than a mile away from Q Fanatic, now one of the gold standard BBQ joints in Minnesota.
But Swap doesn’t feel overwhelmed by his competition. “This guy being in my backyard has spurred me on to do it, and you know what? I think I can do it better.”
The couple first fired up their BBQ smoker about eight years ago after Koli was busy tinkering in the garden with canning and preserving and landed on a stellar BBQ sauce. They went on to start a food truck, also called Jellybean & Julia, and then shuttered it to focus on gettting the BBQ sauces on store shelves. Meanwhile, the perfect space, one that had existed as a coffee shop/cafe for over 50 years, became available. They snatched it up, and here they are, with the area’s second BBQ restaurant.
But Swap doesn’t really want to be in competition with Q Fanatic. They’re focusing on BBQ, but also simple scratch cooking, something the area doesn’t have enough of. They're also doing a little bit of breakfast because people kept coming around looking for it, so they caved.
Savory waffles are their signature. There's the ever-reliable chicken and waffles, along with a cornbread waffle doused in BBQ chili, cheese, and hashbrowns. Also look for biscuits and gravy, French toast, and breakfast sandwiches.
On the BBQ side, they're particularly proud of their brisket, having just returned from a couple of research trips to Texas. "And people love our pulled pork," they add. Friday is rib day; theirs come dry-rubbed and glazed.
An example of their hybridization of BBQ and good old fashioned (if over the top) scratch cooking is their “Heart Attack” sandwich. This bacon grilled cheese comes with caramelized onion, roasted garlic mayonnaise, and pulled pork. Ask for it by name. Swap says that even when it’s not on the menu, addicts come calling for it.
They also serve burgers and other sandwiches, soups, Koli’s fun sauces and jams, and creative desserts, beer, and wine.
They also cater, and suggest you let them do your backyard reception and don't try to do it yourself, as they did.
"I didn't get to talk to anyone becasue I was too busy manning the pit," Swap recalls.
530 West Main St., Anoka