By Carol McCracken (Post # 403)
The green shack with yellow trim lit up at nightfall has finally been given a second life after years of non-use; it’s the shack that looks as though it should have blown over during the recent wind storm but somehow didn’t. Rather, it’s the new home for Skinny Cart BBQ. Noontime today was the opening day for Ron Gan’s newest creation – at 202 Washington Avenue.
A developer who has decided to wait out the economic downturn by pursuing another passion of his, cooking, Gan spent most of last year developing a product of which he’s very proud, he said earlier today at his start-up business. “It’s hard to start up a food cart and to develop a quality sandwich,” ‘Gan said. Since July, he’s been working with groups of food tasters who gave him feedback on the BBQ until Gan had it right. It didn’t all come together until the end of December.
The opening of his Skinny Cart coincided with the opening day of Maine Restaurant Week, although it was incidental. Gan didn’t plan it that way. His inspiration for barbequed beef came from his grandmother; Rebecca. She taught him all about barbequing back in Chicago where Gan is from. The ingredients are the best he could find and are all locally purchased. He gets rolls from Sorellas, Andeson Street, and beef from Pat’s Meat Market, Stevens Avenue. Add some cooked onions to Ronnie G’s Miracle (also secret!) Sauce – this is a sandwich destined to find a local and lasting niche as part of Portland’s reputation as a foodie town. (See above photograph of Ron Gan.)
On the wall facing his desk is a night photograph of a stunning, modern home Gan built in downtown Chicago for his family. Eventually he sold it. “That was an artistic endeavor and so is this enterprise,” he said referring to Skinny Cart. “This has been a lot about transferring skills. The methodology is similar.” Gan developed the Federal Street townhouses a few years ago.
The Skinny Cart BBQ is open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11 am to 2 pm. The beef sandwich is $5.95 and Gan also sells soda and chips. Customers can email Gan to place orders at skinnycartBBQ@gmail.com.