‘Barbeque, burgers and beer’ becomes the new identity of Public Road restaurant
When Rich Womack took over the longtime restaurant building at 103 S. Public Road in Lafayette a couple years ago, he wanted his restaurant name to mean something to locals. So he named his restaurant Miller’s Grille, after town founder Mary Miller, who named the city after her late husband, Lafayette.
Looking to cement the restaurant’s identity as it converts into a barbeque joint, Womack recently tapped another Miller.
Lew Miller — no relation to Mary and Lafayette Miller — moved to the area in January and was eating at Miller’s Grille a few months back when he asked a waitress to pass along his business card to the owner.
Miller’s business card reads: “Kansas City Barbeque Society CBJ (Competitive Barbeque Judge), BBQ Instructor, Contest Representative, Demo Chef.”
A few minutes later, Womack emerged from the back and introduced himself to Miller, then asked, “Can you help me with my barbeque?”
Miller’s response: “That’s what I do.”
The rest, as they may one day say, is history.
Earlier this week, Miller’s Grille rolled out a new menu featuring predominantly barbeque entrees and sides.
Already business is on the rise.
“It’s amazing. All I have to do is lift the lid on my smoker and the people flock in,” Womack said.
It doesn’t hurt that the smoker sits just off the front patio and wafts in the direction of the Public Road sidewalk. Passersby hardly stand a chance.
Womack said the barbeque is here to stay.
“This is who we are now,” he said. “It was a little inconsistent for us for while, but we’ve found our niche now.”
What Miller has brought to the table is barbeque done right.
“Patience and consistency are the keys to barbeque,” Miller said. “It takes 10 to 12 hours to smoke brisket or pork shoulder. You can’t rush it, you have to have the right equipment, a consistent temperature and you have to have the right ingredients. It took me a while to figure out what I was doing once I got out here. With the altitude, it takes 20 to 25 percent more time to cook. But we’ve got it down now. But when you go to Chili’s or Applebee’s, you know what you’re getting. We have that consistency here now.”
Womack said it was taken some time to train his kitchen staff to work with the time-intensive process behind barbeque.
“There are so many nuances to each piece of meat,” Womack said. “I’m still learning myself.”
Barbeque is just one-third of Miller’s Grille’s new identity, which the placards on the patio rail now list as “Barbeque. Burgers. Beer.”
The burgers — produced in-house with beef from Slim Pickins in Erie — always have been a staple at Miller’s, but a new emphasis has been placed on beer — specifically local craft beer.
Miller’s plans to keep 18 beers on tap from Boulder County breweries such as The Post, Upslope, Avery, Gravity and possibly Industrial Revolution and Echo.
“We’re not a microbrewery, but we’e going to have 18 taps and we’re trying to keep it local,” Womack said. “We want it to eventually become the spot where you can get all the local craft brews in one place.”
Miller’s Grille also will host barbeque courses led by Miller in the restaurant basement.
Miller, who has taught community college barbeque courses in Iowa, joked that in Boulder County he had to change the course name from Smoking 101 to Barbeque 101 to avoid confusion. But he said barbeque is a universal language.
“Everybody wants to be king of the grill,” Miller said.
The next class is set for June 5.
For more information on Miller’s Grille, visit http://millers3b.com
written by Doug Pike, Colorado Weekly