Posts Tagged: Fat Pat’s BBQ

Community Builders: Red’s IGA

By Kristine Jepsen • Originally published in the Fall 2017 Inspire(d) Magazine

Meatball suppers, spaghetti feeds, pancake breakfasts: There’s no dispute that food fundraisers are a beloved Midwestern tradition, especially when there’s lefse involved.

But in small towns across the Driftless, fundees face a bit of a problem: Any such rally takes time to organize and many, many hands to run successfully. And who wants to plan for months to raise only a few Benjamins in the end (after expenses)?

This was the dilemma Pat ‘Red’ Longmire of Spring Grove, Minnesota, set out to solve six years ago. As founder and owner-manager of Red’s IGA on the east end of town, he saw mutual benefit to running a “turnkey” fundraising program for local organizations. First, Red’s chooses a tasty seasonal menu (meat, ‘taters, veg, coleslaw, and a buttered roll) and performs the food prep. Then, they set up a serving station, usually in the produce aisle of the store, and a few staff, often including Red himself, work alongside student or non-profit volunteers to assemble $9 to-go plates as customers drop in. Generally, 250 meals are served up, and when it’s done, Red’s provides the cleanup.

“My goal is to put $1,000 in their pocket every time,” Red says of the fundraiser recipients: Spring Grove student council, Lions Club, food pantry, and Friends of the Library, among several other causes. “It’s like smoking brisket,” he says, referencing one of his favorite hobbies. “I just love to see the reaction on someone’s face when they take a bite and enjoy it.”

Meanwhile, customers who stop in for the meal get a close look at Red’s ever-expanding stock of vegetables, fruits and items on promo, there in Aisle One.

“Having people come into the store, supporting a local cause, at the end of a long day, getting a plate of comfort foods, gives people a lot of confidence in shopping locally,” Red says. “It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, the more you give back to community, the stronger your support in return. As business owners, I feel it’s our responsibility to give back.”

So keep an eye on the lettered sign outside Red’s IGA (or keep-up-to-date on Facebook). Once each month, September through May, it will announce which Spring Grove organization is running a “Red’s meal deal.” Plates will feature sliced turkey breast (sometime in November), or, yes, gooey, delicious Swedish meatballs in midwinter.

This year they’ll be adding half-chicken to the rotation, utilizing the smoking equipment of Fat Pat’s Texas BBQ, a food truck Red is partnering on with his son, Patrick, Jr. Recently returned to Spring Grove with his young family, Pat (as he’s known, apart from his dad) picked up the BBQ trade as a traveling musician in – you guessed it – Texas. Father and son work side-by-side in the grocery store and in the food truck, which often sells out within an hour or two of sliding open their window for business.

“In small towns, people are giving constantly,” Pat concludes. “That’s the nature of pitching in to make things like the Christmas light display in the city park possible.” By providing a hot, familiar meal on a chilly night, Red’s IGA hopes to make that charity easy as pie.

Cool New Places in the Driftless!

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RockFilter Distillery

Hey – We love whiskey, and that’s just that. Local, hand crafted, organic whiskey and bourbon in the Driftless? Why, yes please! As they say at RockFilter, “No barn nor glass should be raised alone.” Nor spirit crafted, one could add. The RockFilter crew, just up the road in Spring Grove, Minnesota, have been hard at work creating unique whiskey and bourbon – beautifully bottled and sold in small batches, as well as served in their extremely well-designed tasting room just off the park in downtown SG. Local grain – and local talent – are playing out well for this start-up distillery. And we couldn’t be more excited to have (another) reason to visit this cute little town. Currently, the distillery and cocktail room are only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, so check their website or Facebook for hours before visiting. www.rockfilterdistillery.com

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Kickapoo Coffee Viroqua Café

While you’re in Viroqua for the Harvest Parade October 14 (or any day, really), we also highly suggest that you swing in to the new Kickapoo Coffee Café. The Kickapoo Coffee kids have been hard at work upping their – already pretty amazing ­– brand the past couple years, with a successful partnership launch of a Milwaukee Kickapoo Café. So it only makes sense that they bring the good stuff to the masses at home in the Driftless. The space, on the corner of Terhune and Main St, is a clean, beautiful building with indoor / outdoor communal seating and simple, beautiful décor. Delicious baked goods from Crumb Bakery fill the case, in addition to simple, delicious, local café fare. Kickapoo has been “farmer focused” since the beginning of their coffee roasting adventures in 2005. They’ve come a long way from the old train depot they started in, and we couldn’t be happier for them (unless we drank even – more – of their delicious coffee…). Swing by the café next time you’re in Viroqua, or make the trek just to check it out – it’s worth it!  www.kickapoocoffee.com

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Pizza!

High, Wide & Handsome

Word on the street is that there is some tasty pizza flying out of High, Wide & Handsome in Calmar, Iowa these days! That would make sense, since it’s the Sparrow family dishing up the pies. Jason, “Mr. High, Wide & Handsome” Sparrow is realizing his take-out pizza dream at 117 E. Main St. Call ahead – 563-562-9029 – to order a Three Little Pigs, or a Bacon Cheeseburger (pizza, that is…). Kudos to Calmar – with the new PIVO Brewery set to open in Calmar sometime later this year – it seems like this awesome community is ever-reinventing itself as the crossroads of NE Iowa! Like High, Wide & Handsome on Facebook to stay in the pizza-know.

Luna Valley – Pizza Farm Nights 

While we’re on the subject of Pizza (we could do this all day…), you may recall a “loving” write up from our Spring 2017 issue about the start-up of our friend Maren and Tom Beard’s Luna Valley Farms Pizza nights. Well, tick-tock, and guess what? They’re slinging farm fresh pizzas out of the wood fired oven every Friday night through October. Here at Inspire(d), we are big fans of the “pizza farm” concept, where local producers use their own and other local ingredients to put out tasty pizzas for you enjoy picnic-style on Maren and Tom’s gorgeous Driftless farm. Find details on Facebook or at www.lunavalleyfarm.com.

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New Downtown Decorah Digs!

There’s been some grumbling amongst the coffee klatch crowds this past year about empty storefronts in downtown Decorah – but huzzah, we’re here to say never fear! While our favorite stores and restaurants continue to breathe new life into our community, Decorah is in the midst of a slight renaissance, with some new and relocating businesses just on the horizon! A duo of buildings in the middle of Water Street have recently been transformed into new office spaces for Thrivent Financial and Midwest Group Benefits, Inc. Just down the street, adjacent to the Hotel Winneshiek (in the old Hallmark) our friends Lisa Lantz and Scott Bassford are busy beautifying the space to become “The Getup” – a cool new shop that will buy and sell quality used children’s clothes, gear, and maternity ware in-store and online (www.getupdecorah.com). Meanwhile over on Winnebago, Gabi Masek has been busy at Wildcrafted Acupuncture and Herbs – check out the community acupuncture and personally crafted Wai Ke Botanicals. Across the street from there, find Cardboard Robot (in the old StoryPeople wood shop), self-described by the legendary Eric Sovern (owner) as a “supply depot for makers, artists, kids, former kids, goofballs, and nerds.”

Back on Water Street, Decorah artist Paula Brown has opened a retail shop for her work ‘The Goods’. You may remember reading about Paula in Inspire(d) before – she’s offering some really cool art and services downtown now! It’s so exciting to watch Decorah continue to grow! Now if we can just figure out what to do with that old JCP building…

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Fat Pat’s BBQ Truck

Well, well. If it’s not the craft whiskey distillery gussying up lil’ ol’ Spring Grove, then it’s a kick ass new BBQ food truck! That’s right, Patrick Longmire Jr may have cut his teeth bagging groceries at his Pop’s IGA (read about Red on pg 42), but it was several years on the road playing music in Texas that brought him into the world of BBQ. When he and his family circled their wagons for Spring Grove, his love of BBQ led him to explore the idea of a BBQ truck – and it was an excellent idea! The menu is simple BBQ, the sides are beans, slaw, or potato salad, and the customers are raving. The best part is that you don’t ever know where Fat Pat’s may be pulling up next – recent favorite spots have been the new RockFilter Distillery (Spring Grove), Karst Brewing (Fountain), and Turtle Stack Brewery (La Crosse). Keep an eye on www.fatpatsbbq.com or instagram @fatpatsbbq, or Facebook to see where you can catch some killer BBQ next!