Forget tri-tip and chicken.
Sean Aquino cut his teeth on tri-tip and custom-made cakes.
Sounds crazy right?
But with his wife Jahnelle at the helm of the baking operation, Aquino turned Sweet Sweets – the bakery that was located in the Orchard Supply Hardware center on Louise Avenue – into a unique eatery that included sandwiches made of the tasty sirloin cut as well as hamburgers and other special items.
And it was there that he worked tirelessly on his own blend of barbecue sauces and marinades that he knew someday would be the cornerstone of his own restaurant.
A month ago that vision came true.
The couple swung open the doors of Mr. Biggs Smoke House and Deli on N. Main Street just four weeks ago, and have since seen business boom thanks to a focus on customer service and a unique taste that Aquino says customers can automatically tell comes from a homemade sauce.
“They know that it’s something different right away,” Aquino said. “It’s rewarding for me when I see that – I get a kick of seeing that they notice it. I started with something, and then worked from it as we went along, and it’s something that I think will only continue to get better.”
Aquino himself grew up prowling around the kitchen of his father’s Hawaiian barbecue restaurant in Brentwood, and has incorporated some of those memories into his own foray into the restaurant business.
Managing the restaurant and the raising of three children – ages 5,9 and 13 – has been somewhat challenging but something that Aquino takes pride in being able to say that is one of the most important things in his life.
“My Dad was pretty busy when I was young so I didn’t really get a chance to spend a lot of time with him,” Aquino said. “They get a kick out of coming down after hours and pretending that they’re ringing up customers or pushing a broom around, and it’s a chance to stay involved with them – running a restaurant is constant work but running a family is as well.
“You want to make them feel like they’re a part of something that’s so important for the family. It’s a good feeling seeing them happy.”
And happiness is one of the things that drives Aquino when it comes pushing the business through its infancy.
Just feeding people, he said, is what he enjoys most about coming into work – seeing the look on their faces when they leave full and satisfied with their decision to come and try something new and different.
It takes work to succeed, however, and both Aquino and Jahnelle have been putting in double-time to make sure that they get Mr. Biggs off the ground the right way – relying more on word-of-mouth advertising that traditional sources and hefty portions to make sure that customers leave fat and sassy.
By all indications it’s working.
“We’ve seen a lot of different people come in now, and that’s a good sign when you’re just getting started,” Aquino said. “Word of mouth is pretty powerful, and when people learn that you’re trying to serve the biggest plate you can they want to come try it out.
“Right now the quantity is there, and I work to make sure that the quality is there too. I feel like the extra money is better spent on the customers than putting it into advertising because they’ll go out and do the advertising for us. So far that’s working.”
Mr. Biggs Smoke House and Deli is located at 137 N. Main Street, and is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. They’re closed Sunday and Monday. For more information call (209) 275-3658 or search www.facebook.com for Mr. Biggs Smokehouse and Deli.
To contact Jason Campbell, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (209) 249-3544.