A big man’s beard, brews, and burgers


Photo by Caleb Mitchell

It’s a little after nine p.m. on a Tuesday night, the Smiths are blaring above the sounds of glasses clinking and the din of an ever-beckoning pinball machine as I’m sitting on a barstool at one of Provo’s better known pubs, A. Beauford Gifford’s Libation Emporium (otherwise succinctly known as ABG’s). Sitting across from me is Dane Startup (more commonly known as Big Dane); a man with a physical frame that would put a grizzly to shame and who also dons a physical beard that would put a Grizzly Adams to shame. As one of the main managers, he agreed to tell me about one of the bar’s ace in the hole above other bars: their increasingly popular pub grub.

How long have you guys been offering your pub grub cuisine?
The current menu we have has been going roughly for about a year and a half. Before that we just kind of did one simple burger and fries. We started to punch it up since then, offering more of a sexy bar food type atmosphere – if you will.

Was the bar lacking “sexy” before?
Well, yeah. The bar needs some level of sexiness, and me being a fat man, that’s like crack.

Most bars usually only offer salty snack foods, like provisions you’d usually get on a modern day airline.

Would you say that you guys strayed away from that to perhaps attract a bigger crowd?
Yes and yes;  If you offer the stereotypical bar nosh like popcorn and pretzels, it’ll make a hell of a mess, especially when you’re dealing with some people who, when stripped down, are just a little bit above juveniles. The economy is hard and some people usually opt to save money and stay home, but this gives it at least more of an edge to get people to come in.

So it’s been beneficially supplementing the bar’s business?
Absolutely; it’s pretty much been carrying us at this point. Like I said, people are really prioritizing coming out to bars for entertainment instead of staying at home and drinking but us coupling that with food has really helped us out.

What’s a famous food item that people have been ordering a lot?
I would say across the board, one of the highest sellers, would be the cheese fries. It’s a great bar fare. Just right below that would be the “Loaded Fries.” (Cheese fries with bacon, peppers, and onions.) Our burgers also do really well although fries have been at the top of our sales. We also have a great Cajun seasoning we offer to toss on top of them. It’s been really popular.

I understand that you brew your own namesake barbecue sauce, which most consider to be the essence of the pub grub you guys serve. Did this start off as a personal hobby?
Yeah, absolutely; when I was a kid, around ten years old, I just naturally took over the grill at home with family stuff. As I started playing around with different things I came up with my own unique spin on sauces. They’re really nice and unique sauces.

What are a few of the flavors?
The Honey Chipotle seems to sell really well here because it’s used the most on burgers. Plus, I think people like a bit of a kick. The next one down would be the Cranberry Bourbon.

Do you find that doubling your bar into a late-night eatery is an advantage above most restaurants in Provo that, like the rest of the city, turn out their lights early?
Oh yes; absolutely, especially on Sundays when this little two-horse farm and town shuts down. It’s great to offer that option of food and beers or whatever libations as well. It’s become a little gem. People pop in and are elated to find a little spot since it’s cold and downtown is usually dead. There aren’t too many options and I think at some point you get tired of late night burrito places and you know, everybody is tired of McDonalds.

Any plans on marketing your sauce to a grocery store front in the future?
It’s a long and arduous process mainly since I just make it myself. I aspire to online sales and retail. If I get myself in a situation where I can get it made in larger quantities, getting the right distribution channels and getting picked up by major wholesale companies then that would be the essential dream.

And any plans on broadening and expanding the pub grub here?
We’re such a small bar that we have limited space in terms of space. We’re basically at the apex of what we’re going to offer, we might be able to throw in a couple of other things. It’s just the first year and  we’re just rolling with what we got now and it’s doing well, but there’s a little room for expansion.

Any other remarks you want to add?
For what we can accommodate, we make sure we offer really good food so be sure to come on down to enjoy some good eating .

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