An Aurora-based barbecue restaurant is expanding into Greene County with an expected opening this month of a second location.
Hog Tide Bar-B-Que LLC owner Drew McNatt said a new Willard eatery will launch at 304 E. Jackson St., Ste. 1B, in the East Shopping Center. McNatt, who started Hog Tide four years ago in his hometown of Aurora, said the new restaurant fills space formerly occupied by Jackson Street Deli, which shuttered last year.
McNatt said he has a lot of family in Willard, adding his restaurant also frequently caters school district events and sponsors some of its sports teams. Additionally, Hog Tide operated a food truck last year in Willard for several months.
“For us, it was a natural fit when this spot became available,” he said, noting the Willard restaurant site also has a drive-thru – an additional attraction his Aurora shop doesn’t have. He declined to disclose lease terms or startup costs.
The menu at Hog Tide includes sandwiches, St. Louis-style spare ribs and barbecue platters offering choices of meat such as pulled pork, beef brisket and smoked chicken. Fried okra, sweet cornbread and loaded baked potato salad are among the sides, according to its website. Entree prices range $9-$22.
McNatt said the menu was crafted from his years of traveling and winning awards on the competitive barbecue circuit.
“We do everything competition quality. We treat every customer as a judge on the circuit,” he said. “You’re going to get the exact ribs, pork, chicken, brisket and burnt ends that we compete with on a normal basis.”
The Willard restaurant’s opening date this month is undetermined as McNatt said he’s struggled to round out his staff, noting he wants to hire 15 people. A hiring day held this week for the restaurant was frustrating, he said, as he scheduled 10 interviews and only three showed.
“It is very common,” McNatt said, noting he’s also faced hiring difficulties at the Aurora eatery. “It’s just the day and age we’re living in, unfortunately.”
The addition of a second Hog Tide restaurant could soon be followed by a third, McNatt said. He is in negotiations for another shop, declining to disclose its location, but said an announcement should be forthcoming before year’s end.
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