Every great barbecue joint has an interesting creation story, but the story of Moe’s is stranger than most. Mike Fernandez was a student at University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and inspired by the awesome local barbecue scene at places like the superlative Dreamland, he partnered with Moses Day, an experienced pitmaster, to open Moe’s Original Barbecue in Tuscaloosa. After his mentor and partner passed away, Moe’s closed and Fernandez went to culinary school (Johnson & Wales) to learn a more professional approach to the restaurant business.
Afterwards, he found himself living the ski-bum dream with two good college friends in Vail, Colo., a town bereft of real barbecue, so the three partners started cooking from a home built pit in nearby Edwards in 2001, which immediately became locally popular and morphed into a mobile trailer. The success of the trailer grew into a small eatery followed quickly in 2005 by a move to larger nearby location, still in operation today, in the Lionshead base area of Vail, just steps from the ski lifts. Tucked upstairs in a less obvious shopping plaza, this oldest location of Moe’s Original Bar B Que remains a hidden gem, at least as much as is possible in Vail. If you find yourself at America’s most popular ski resort, winter or summer, it is well worth seeking out. But there is more to the tale.
Because of the trio’s history in Tuscaloosa, they soon began partnering with driven and equally barbecue-obsessed graduates of their alma mater to open outposts of Moe’s wherever the U of A alums found themselves, from Alabama to Maine. Today, less than a decade after moving into their first space, there are nearly 30 Moe’s in eight states (Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Ohio, Nevada and Tennessee), with more outposts opening soon in California and South Carolina. It’s an interesting twist on franchising where prospective owners typically prove their mettle interning in one of the existing Moe’s and then often open with interest-free or low-interest loans and deferred fees from the founders, who often come and help work the new openings to get them up and running.
To read the entire article, go to: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/columnist/greatamericanbites/2014/06/05/moes-barbecue-vail/9967553/