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The Scarlet & Black

College pastry chef fires up Dragon BBQ

Dragon Wagon BBQ’s small location at the corner of 6th Ave. and Main St. might be easy to overlook, but the taste of their barbeque isn’t. Started by Grinnell Dining Services Pastry Chef Terry Anderson and his wife Beckey, the spot opened in June of last year as a side project.

“It’s mostly for the summer time,” Terry said. “When the College shuts down, I’m not working very much.”

This year, the Andersons were not planning on opening the Dragon Wagon until summer, but consumer demand changed their mind.

Donald Andrews and Charles Cowman give their lunch orders to Beckey Anderson at Dragon Wagon BBQ in downtown Grinnell on Wednesday. Photograph taken by Andrew Kelley.

“Right now, we just opened up early because people were just about begging me to open up,” Anderson said.

“We have a lot of repeat customers from last year that are coming back in,” Beckey added.

Due to the Dining Hall currently being open full time, Terry is working two jobs.

“I generally work six to two [at the College], as long as something doesn’t keep me there late in the afternoon while [Beckey’s] running the lunch hour,” Anderson said. “And then I do my smoking in the afternoon. I usually smoke three or four times a week depending on how fast we’re going through things.”
Soon, the BBQ spot plans to expand its hours.

“Eventually, we’re planning on Monday, [April] 18, to start being open at night, five to seven, or something like that, and I’ll run that,” Anderson said.
When it came to deciding what sort of restaurant to open, it was a mixture of pragmatism and passion, according to Terry.

“If you think of the other kinds of cuisine out there, smoking is one of those few things that, it does take a long time to do, but for what we’re serving, you don’t have to have fryers, you don’t have to have a ventilation hood … a stove and a grille, all that high dollar type stuff,” Anderson said. “So I can keep it in a little space like this.”

The other option he considered is a long way from barbeque, both temperature and taste wise.

“My other choice was either this or frozen custard, but getting those machines costs a lot. And I just like barbeque, it’s something I’ve been interested in doing a long time,” he said.

Composing the menu was all by Terry’s hand, as was making the sauce.

“I just started throwing stuff in a pot. When it tasted to my satisfaction, I was done,” Terry said.

The menu consists of eight “BBQ Smoked Sandwiches,” ranging from the “Texas Road Kill,” which has “brisket, smoked sausage, fire roasted sweet peppers and roasted garlic sauce,” to “Chicken Little,” made up of “pulled chicken lightly smoked and seasoned with [the] house seasoning,” to the simple “Wilbur,” a heap of “smokey tender pulled pork lightly sauced.”

All sandwiches can be customized with 10 toppings and come on a wheat, white or pretzel bun. Also available is meat by the pound, homemade baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, “Mom’s pickles,” baked potatoes and ribs and burnt ends every Friday.

According to Beckey, one meat has proved the most in demand.

“The meat that is the most popular is the brisket. I thought it would be the pork. We’ve been going through them like crazy,” she said.

The Dragon Wagon is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day and starting April 18, it will be open from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for dinner. For more info on specials you can visit their Facebook or Twitter page.

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