Tigard food cart turns barbecue passion into business
Despite weather, barbecue season never ends on Pacific Highway
Barbecue enthusiasts have heard of Memphis-style and Kansas City-style, but theyve probably never heard of Tigard-style.
Since October 1, Jekas BBQ along Pacific Highway has been drawing in customers with its offerings of ribs, chopped pork and fried okra.
Owner Eugene Jeka Storozhuk opened the cart last month, becoming one of the few food trucks operating in the city.
Storozhuk (pronounced store-oh-jook) left his native Ukraine at the age of 11. Pulled pork and ribs werent something he ate growing up in Eastern Europe, he said.
Thats not a Ukrainian food, he said. Now, shish kabob, kafka, lots of lamb that is, but its nothing like brisket.
After settling in Portland when he was a middle schooler, Storozhuk soon came to appreciate the smoky flavors of American barbecue.
And with nine siblings, he helped introduce them to the distinctly American taste as well, he said.
Oh, man, my parents didnt understand what brisket was until the third time I cooked it for them, he said. Its one of those things they had to get used to.
Storozhuks cart, located at 12825 S.W. Pacific Highway, began drawing in business as soon as it opened, he said. Its spot in a gas station parking lot is nothing fancy, but he said hes keeping plenty busy, even as traditional barbecue weather fades into winter.
Its that smell, he said, motioning toward a large smoker parked near the busy highway. They might drive past it the first day, but I see them pull in on the second or third day. They come in and say that theyve got to give me a try. That smoker does wonders. This street gets so busy.
As he talks, a woman approaches the counter and orders three ribs for herself.
You like your barbecue sauce on the side, right? Storozhuk asks, handing her a paper plate with meat.
Ill be back for dinner, she says, getting back into her car.
She comes all the time, he said. Her first order was just three ribs, too.
Food cart desert?
Jekas occupies a relatively lonely spot in the citys culinary landscape. Tigard is home to few food carts and no dedicated pods.
The Westside is new to food trucks, Storozhuk said. I mean, you cant get better than this.
North of town, the city of Beaverton is looking to establish food cart pods and has relaxed rules that prohibit mobile food businesses from staying in one spot for long. Those rules havent come to Tigard, where food carts are treated like any other restaurant.
City planners say that if more businesses wanted to come to Tigard, theyd be willing to take up the idea.
We keep getting the question, Cheryl Caines, associate planner with the city, told The Times in 2013. Our code is really silent on that; it doesnt really address it.
The Times profiled several carts in 2013, but most of those have since moved outside of the city or have closed up shop.
Storozhuk said he plans to stay.
Weve wanted a barbecue place around here for some time, he said.
Storozhuk isnt the first Tigard-area resident to get into the barbecue business. opened in Newberg in 2013Slicks Big Time Barbecue , after years as a successful Tigard barbecue sauce company. And Busters Texas Style Barbecue chain operates a location near Interstate 5.
Keep it simple
Storozhuk started cooking with family shish kabob recipes.
Thats what we do in the summer time when we go to the park, he said. I started messing with that and soon I realized that I could do barbecue. I have a passion for it. Ive always liked cooking with wood and fire.
The secret to good barbecue, however, isnt just in the ingredients.
Its passion, he said, spraying the meat in his smoker with a mist of apple cider. Thats what it is.
Storozhuk said he wants to keep things simple. The restaurant offers two entrees chopped pork sandwiches or baby back ribs along with fries, coleslaw or fried okra.
Theres no seating at his small food cart, so everything is made to go.
Doing dishes is such a hassle, he said. Its so much better to do something simple, but do it good.
Storozhuk said hed eventually like to move to a more traditional restaurant space, but hes willing to take his time.
I want to grow into that, he said. I want to do this for a while.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT