It's never too late to find your passion, and for career bartender Andy Walker, that passion has turned out to be smoking meats.
"For the first 20 years of my career, I stayed as far away from the kitchen as possible," Andy says. "Now, barbecue is a real passion for me. You'd be surprised what you're really good at."
Andy is one of the brothers and sons, behind Stanley Bar-B-Que, formerly Schweinehaus, in Overton Square.
He owns and runs the eatery with his brother, David, who is not new to the restaurant business nor to barbecue — he was on a barbecue-cooking team for Memphis in May for years, studied at the French Culinary Institute, and was an executive chef in New York before returning to Memphis to be with his family.
Andy and David opened Schweinehaus with their parents, Stanley and Martha, in 2014 once David returned to the Mid-South to be with his family while his father was being treated for congestive heart failure. Stanley passed away just after Christmas last year.
The brothers had already been adding more and more barbecue items to the menu in response to the demand they heard for it in the Overton Square area. They fully transitioned from a German beer hall to a barbecue restaurant in November, and officially changed the name to Stanley Bar-B-Que earlier this summer to not only match the name with the product but to also honor their dad.
"Dad always loved barbecue," Andy says. "He would treat himself to ribs at the Rendezvous once or twice a year."
They offer the full monty — ribs, pulled pork, chicken, turkey, and brisket. They can do Picnic Packs, ranging anywhere from a four-pack for $22 to a 12-pack for $59, with quarts and pans of sides that can feed from 50 to 300-plus. They have barbecue nachos, smoked whole wings, Texas chili, and homemade pies made by Mom.
"We have people who come in and buy whole pies," Andy says. "They might be our best-seller."
They kept some of the Schweinehaus favorites, more for survival instinct than anything else.
"We kept the things we would get murdered for taking off the menu," Andy says.
That includes Beer Fries, with shoestring fries, beer cheese, chili, sour cream, and pico de gallo ($7); their popular pretzel, with beer cheese and Schweinehaus Mustard ($8); Sauerkraut Balls, with apple butter ($9); and Fried Brussels, with bacon, citrus vinaigrette, candied almonds, and balsamic onions ($9).
Lately they've been giving the space a makeover, giving it a "softer" look than the heavy wood tables and iron chandeliers.
"We're painting, adding more chairs, finishing out the stage, and adding more TVs," David says. "I like to say we're a work in progress all the time. In the restaurant business, you have to constantly be your own worst critic."