Juicy brisket sliced up and ready to be devoured, is just one of the reasons to check out Red Rock BBQ in Ypsilanti. Owner Shawn Cool always wanted to be an entrepreneur. When he was 16 he started working in restaurants and he knew one day he wanted to own one. After several years in the industry, he started looking for a building and came across a historic spot in downtown Ypsilanti. The building was built in the 1860s and was used as everything from a meat market, to most recently, as a bar.
The bar was called T.C.‘s Speakeasy, named after Tye Cool, the owner. Funnily enough, he has no relation to Shawn Cool, the current owner. (Must just be a cool building) In order to keep the historical integrity of the building, Shawn stripped the plaster off the walls, exposing the brick. He also kept the original tin crown molding and has plans to put back the tin ceiling. For the bar itself, he repurposed the old one which was built around the 1930s, making it even larger, shaped like a giant horse shoe in the middle of the restaurant.
Now that he had a building, he needed to decide what kind of food he wanted to serve, and he landed on BBQ. His father used to work in the meat industry and had over 40 years of experience smoking meats.
"He was living in Oklahoma when I was opening it up," explains Shawn. "We would email recipes back and forth. We bought the same smoker and we would tweak the recipes, send it back, say 'I changed this,' and we went back and forth like that for three years."
Finally, in 2012, Red Rock BBQ opened it's doors. They serve up a dry-rub BBQ that gets smoked low and slow. While not inspired by any particular region, they have a variety of different sauces for you to drench your meat in. They have all the classics like brisket, pulled pork, ribs, burnt ends, and smoked chicken, along with all the sides. Their mac and cheese and smokehouse bowl are popular among vegetarians.
Currently they are open for dine-in, and they recently built a good-sized patio outback. You can also order carry out and do a curbside-pick-up off of Washington Street. Red Rock BBQ is located at 207 West Michigan Avenue in Ypsilanti.