Welcome to Take Me Out, our occasional series where a Republic reporter tries takeout from a local restaurant.
It’s not hard to imagine why a catering business might not be lucrative during a pandemic. No office lunches. Few celebrations. Postponed weddings.
This is why Freddy Renstrom, the owner of Fat Freddy’s Catering, decided to try something new and offer family-sized portions of smoked meats and sides for takeout. Called Freddy’s Backdoor BBQ, this new side hustle will give people the chance to pick up food at the “backdoor” of his commercial kitchen in north Phoenix.
“I was sitting there struggling during the pandemic,” Renstrom said about his motivation to start the new venture. “If you think about it, the worst business you could be in is the catering business.”
What to know about Freddy’s Backdoor BBQ
With Freddy’s Backdoor BBQ, customers can order food online or over the phone at least 24 hours in advance. Customers can pick up or have the order delivered to their home hot and ready to eat or cold to reheat.
The catering business that Renstrom started in 1993 occupies a 12,000 square-foot commercial kitchen in north Phoenix, but he said he had to lay off 25 people due to the slowdown in business from the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Renstrom’s company often puts together large buffets for corporate events. “Right now, buffet is a nasty word,” he says. Corporate catering was about 80% of his business he said, while social events made up the rest.
The backdoor idea started a few months ago he said as “survival mode,” but he is looking forward to providing food to more customers.
“It’s important to put the love back into the food, even as a commercial kitchen we do that as much as possible,” Renstrom says.
What’s on the menu at Freddy’s Backdoor BBQ?
Renstrom has a variety of freshly smoked meats on offer, including Kansas City burnt ends, sliced or chopped brisket, pulled pork and house-made sausage.
There’s also the option of some more unique dishes such as chicken-fried ribs and Chinese fried chicken, which are inspired by Renstrom’s own Chinese heritage.
Brisket, macaroni and cheese and cowboy baked beans from Freddy’s Backdoor BBQ in north Phoenix. (Photo: Andy Blye)
It’s hard to have a barbeque feast without sides and Freddy’s is prepared. Customers can choose from macaroni and cheese, cowboy baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad and mashed potatoes to make a fully rounded meal.
You can also pick up a variety of barbeque sauces by the bottle, cornbread and buns, and for dessert, Freddy’s signature pineapple upside-down cake.
Why you shouldn’t skip the chicken fried ribs
Just trying to hit the free delivery minimum, which is $50, will likely land you with a barbeque feast from Freddy’s Backdoor BBQ.
I placed my order three days in advance and set the time I wanted it delivered on the website. I selected it to be delivered hot, and it arrived right on time piping hot with an entire bag of high-quality plastic flatware and plates, so this would make for a great meal to bring to a socially distanced picnic.
The sliced brisket with cider glazed onion is good and tender, especially with some of the extra traditional BBQ sauce. Freddy’s BBQ sauce packs a molasses sweetness that isn’t too over the top. The brisket itself has a deep, smoky flavor with a peppery spice rub on the exterior. I ordered the minimum quantity of brisket, which is one pound.
The sides, which I ordered in size small, came in hefty portions and were in no way an after-thought to the barbeque. The macaroni and cheese was made with elbow pasta with an extra layer of cheese baked on top. When you break through the crust, the mac is perfectly creamy right out of the container. The cowboy beans with peppers and onions were flavorful, sweet and smoky.
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It’s hard to resist ordering a menu item like a chicken fried spare rib and I would not recommend skipping this offering. Renstrom said this is a dish he experimented with until it was crunchy but not greasy, and he nailed this one.
The spare rib is seasoned with a dry rub and dipped in a crunchy coating and deep-fried. It is enjoyably rich and the whole bite is made perfect with the addition of a little extra sauce.
After trying the rest of the food, my only regret is not ordering dessert.
Freddy’s Backdoor BBQ
Where: 2201 West Melinda Lane #2, Phoenix.
Offerings: Smoked meat and side dishes.
Price: Sliced brisket with cider glazed onions $18.50; Chicken fried ribs $8; small macaroni and cheese $10.50; small cowboy baked beans $10.50; traditional BBQ sauce $4.
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday for pickup or delivery.
Details: 623-414-1803, freddysbackdoorbbq.com.
Reach the reporter at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @DrShaena.
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