116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A mobile catering barbecue venture is turning up the heat in a former Czech Village meat market.
Up in Smoke, a new barbecue restaurant opened by father and son duo Tim and Adam Sines, has set up its first brick-and-mortar restaurant at 92 16th Ave. SW, the former home of the Anvil Meat Market & Deli that closed in September.
With a “hotter, faster” smoke, the new opening offers a locally-owned concept with a few standout qualities in Cedar Rapids, where about half of the barbecue restaurants are chains.
You may recognize the Sines from their vending at Kernels baseball games. Although their mobile catering business has been open since 2013, it wasn’t until last year that they found the momentum at Kernels games to start the fire at a permanent restaurant location.
In addition to the ballgames last year, they sold food out of the Old Neighborhood Pub’s kitchen, as well.
After volunteering to cover one of his son’s band banquets for Kennedy High School at cost, word spread about the Sines’ smoked specialties. Quickly, they were serving other school banquets at cost — a move that paid off when one student, the son of a manager at the Kernels Stadium, heard about Up in Smoke.
“That kind of landed us the job at the Kernels game. Once we took that, it became a situation where I could no longer have my full-time job and do that on the side,” Tim Sines said.
After 20 years in information technology, he left his position with Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids to align a vision he had with his oldest son for years.
What: Up in Smoke
Where: 92 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. or until sold out, Tuesday through Saturday
Phone: (319) 200-5445
Details: The fast-casual barbecue restaurant is open for dine-in and carryout.
With a straightforward menu, diners have a choice of pulled pork, brisket, salmon salad sandwiches, chicken and ribs. Vegetarian-friendly sides include mac and cheese, cheesy potatoes, scratch-made baked beans, coleslaw and a sweet cornbread served with habanero berry jam.
With a slightly faster, hotter smoking process than some barbecue restaurants, pork butts are cooked for 10 hours before going into a warming cabinet to break down into a more tender, juicier meat. Brisket is chopped, not sliced, which Tim said ensures a moister meat with evenly spread fat content.
One of more novel standouts is the brined, alderwood-smoked salmon used for salmon salad sandwiches — an option that opens the barbecue restaurant up to pescatarians.
“Long before anybody was barbecuing pork and ribs and brisket in this country, Native Americans were cooking fish over smoke,” Tim said. “It is the quintessential, original American barbecue. We want to give a nod to that.”
Scratch-made sauces include a small base the restaurant plans to expound on with time. A standard, ketchup-based sauce offers a basic, sweet option popular with diners. Also on the table is a chipotle sauce that kicks up the heat with a smoky pepper and cayenne flavor, and a Carolina mustard sauce that incorporates a slight chipotle tickle with a tangy sweetness.
As a fast-casual concept, Up in Smoke offers a lunch ready in under 10 minutes, made possible by a purist focus on a simple menu that doesn’t branch out into other categories, like burgers.
“We’d like to be the best fast-food place in town, if nothing else,” Tim said.
After closing for a few months of renovations, Up in Smoke opened its dining room in June. It first started serving from the smoker behind the building in March, before renovations commenced.
The dining room now features one less wall for an open-concept dining room decorated with rustic charm you would expect from a barbecue joint. Food is ordered and served at the counter, and customers can eat at the new bar up front or in the spacious dining room with booths and tables.
Tim’s 21-year-old son, Adam Sines, half of the business partnership, brings five years of kitchen experience to the table. After working the kitchen at The Sag Wagon, he graduated from high school at 17 and opted for a less traditional path — hopping on a plane to work a restaurant on Block Island, R.I.
“We both love to eat,” said Tim, 49. “It just turned out that barbecue is the cooking that we’re really good at, and there’s a need for it in town. There’s a lot of restaurants in town, but there’s limited barbecue fare.”
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