Smoke Daddy serves up barbecue at the Taste

June 30, 2011 8:31:18 AM PDT
One of the 12 newcomers to this year's Taste of Chicago is Smoke Daddy, a Wicker Park barbeque joint.

But the road to setting up a booth along Columbus Avenue isn't easy. Last week, ABC7's Hungry Hound caught up with Smoke Daddy's owners at their store, smoking up those ribs and pork, as they prepared for the 10-day festival.

"We've always wanted to do Taste of Chicago and we've always wanted to give it a try. With the changes going from the Mayor's Special Events to the Chicago Park District, we thought it was a good year to, you know, obviously to throw our hat into the ring and give it a run," said Derek Rettell, owner of Smoke Daddy.

One of the main reasons Rettell is making a run of it? The cost. The vendor arrangement is more favorable. Last year, each vendor paid the city $4,000 for a space. This year, admission is $3,000. But the costs don't stop there.

"And then the huge cost is your production -- your first year is probably about $50,000 just to get in from start to finish when you add up all your production, all your labor for 10 days," he said.

Rettell has invested in a portable smoking trailer, which he brings to all festivals and events outside of the restaurant, to make his job a little easier. But he says the fact the city is saving money on fireworks and musical acts will probably mean fewer customers.

"So that means it could take us you know, three or four years to recoup that cost rather than maybe two or three. So there's a concern there, but still I think that the benefits outweigh that risk, and you know, we've decided to make a try at it," said Rettell.

Now the fact the Mayor's Office of Special Events has turned the Taste over to the Park District this year, combined with the fact that there's no more fireworks show and the entry fee is $7,000 less this year, probably means you're going to see a lot more neighborhood restaurants like Smoke Daddy get involved in Taste in the years to come.

Despite the new rules, every restaurant still has to offer a smaller, less expensive "taste" portion.

The Smoke Daddy
1804 W. Division St.
They will be serving: Pulled Pork; Pulled Chicken; BBQ Chips
"Taste Of" portion: Pulled Pork; Pulled Chicken

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