Owner says he learned his way around kitchen by watching his grandmother
The ever-smiling Robert Meredith, owner of the newly opened Yummy Bones BBQ and Catering in Port Washington, looks more like an athlete than a barbecue master, but appearances can be deceiving.
Not to say Meredith doesn’t have game.
He was a three sport athlete at Kettle Moraine High School in Wales. He played running back for the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Titans football team.
“From my days playing football, I learned that you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to. It is mostly about attitude. On the field, I would say, ‘No matter what, I am going to score a touchdown,’” Meredith said.
He brings that same resilient attitude to the barbecue restaurant he opened earlier this month in the lower level of Willie’s Lakefront Lanes, 117 E. Main St.
For the past several years, the space was home to the Taste of Africa restaurant.
Meredith had been catering events and was looking for a commercial kitchen he could use as a base for a restaurant.
He connected with landlord Gertjan Vanden Broek, who mentioned that the Main Street space had recently become available.
“It was just what I was looking for. I am so blessed. There is lots of room. I added some paint to brighten things up, and put down new flooring,” Meredith said.
Meredith also brought in the heart of the kitchen — a Town barbecue smoker capable of handling 300 pounds of savory meat.
Right now, Meredith said, he goes through about 30 pounds of barbecue every other day. The challenge is knowing how much to prepare on any given day.
“Ideally, you want to run out at the end of the day. Reheated barbecue just isn’t the same as something right out of the smoker,” Meredith said.
“I know winter is slow here, but I can see word getting around and by summertime I expect to be crazy busy.”
Even as winter grinds on, he said he has a vision of what the change of seasons will bring.
“I want to create a casual atmosphere where families can come, maybe still wearing their beach clothes, and enjoy great barbecue,” Meredith said.
Although he relies heavily on help from his family, Meredith said the restaurant is essentially a one-man operation at this point.
“I expect that to change once we start getting busy. I am already having people with restaurant experience dropping off their resumes,” he said.
Meredith said his vision extends beyond local success, too.
“There really isn’t a barbecue place in Port, and I can see a time where we become so popular that we have to think about expanding. I have already told Gertjan that is my goal,” he said.
Meredith said he has no formal training as a chef, but contends he learned from the best teacher he knows.
“My grandmother raised me, and I spent a lot of time following her around the kitchen. Everyone knew me as a football player, but what they didn’t know is that I liked messing around in the kitchen. Making barbecue wasn’t
really her thing, but I learned how to make all the sides from her,” he said.
The menu carries a number of those home-cooked choices — baked macaroni and cheese, baked potato salad, cowboy potatoes and Southern baked beans. His desserts include pecan and sweet potato pie.
The barbecue options include pulled pork, beef brisket, ribs, smoked chicken and several substantial burgers.
Open for lunch and dinner, Meredith said the restaurant’s hours are evolving based on business demand.
Carry-out orders can be placed by calling 268-9221.
ROBERT MEREDITH, owner of Yummy Bones BBQ, is eager to share savory barbecue with customers in Port Washington. Photo by Mark Jaeger