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First Bar-B-Q in Kyrg...Shenanigans...Forever!
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JAllen
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Joined: 27 Oct 2010
Posts: 1675
Location: Bishkek

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20 12 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Turkeys around $110.
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JAllen
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Joined: 27 Oct 2010
Posts: 1675
Location: Bishkek

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20 12 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the first real snow came and brought the business to a crashing halt.

Hard to get around the city, and our best customers at this point working at the base are probably working a lot more due to the snow.

We winterized the outdoor bathrooms putting in heaters and springs on the doors so they stay closed. We brought in the big cannon heater for the floor of the main hall and turned on the heaters in the J-Lo room.

It's pretty disheartening seeing business fall off like that, but also it was Monday, and not our best day.

Still, there's something nice about a quiet night every now and then. And it's been nice to reflect on how the business has grown since we started. A couple days ago, Mrs. JAllen and I were remembering how we were putting together recipes in our home kitchen, making hush puppies for the first time, and me trying to remember if that's what they're supposed to taste like.

We talked about the cooking we did at home on the bbq we built and the 16-hr cooks and the glass thermometer I used to stick in a hole in the drum smoker.

I often reflect on the mix of luck and good decisions that led to whatever we've created here:

1. Bar + restaurant. For expats, there is a need not being filled in this city, as there are virtually no real bars where you can sit and eat and get service. There are a couple bars around town, but they're either too high, too low, too small, or just plain uncomfortable.

2. The building itself. The fact that from behind the horse shoe bar, I can see every table and talk to everyone sitting at them has been a huge plus for service, which is chronically bad around here.

3. The menu. Our very small and simple menu has made it very easy to train just about anyone with a desire to learn. Also the fact that we built a quality brick cooker has made it relatively easy to cook quality food.

4. Not being greedy. While most restaurants charge extra for expensive (here) items like tobasco, Heinz ketchup etc. we never did that. We just decided to eat the high cost every month. Also for pizzas, instead of measuring expensive ingredients, I tell the cooks to make a real good pizza, don't skimp on anything. Someone recently asked for extra cheese the first time trying pizza here, and I felt good telling them that that was a bad idea. And at the bar, we pour drinks as strong as the customer wants. I don't think I've ever been asked for a double.

Now, we have raised prices to keep up with these changes, but we did it after we made sure customers were getting what they wanted, and we believed the extra charge wasn't an issue for them.

Involvement. I don't know how anyone could run a successful restaurant without spending 80+ hours a week. Also the fact that there's two of us doing it is a big help. The other part of this is the fact that we've turned ourselves into hosts that are expected to be here by a lot, if not most, or almost all of our customers.

I think for someone living in a foreign country, and maybe not speaking the language, having a place to go to where there is an expat behind the bar who has a very nice wife who also speaks their language is a big positive for this place. I never thought about this when we started.

The people we rent from: So far they've been very good in a place notorious for not-so-good partnerships. We have rent discussions coming up soon, and I pretty much expect the worst.

Finally, the BBQ idea: It's a niche, there's only one in the city, there is a high barrier to entry in that it's not easy to build a pit if you don't know what you're doing, and it's relatively high-priced. I've mentioned before that we considered Mexican, but it's hard to charge $10 for rice and beans around here.

So, we've had all of these factors come together. Some were luck, some were business acumen...but in my opinion mostly luck and the willingness to spend a lot of hours to make something happen.
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camdentom
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Joined: 22 Feb 2007
Posts: 435
Location: St Peter, Mn

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20 12 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post, and very timely for my wife and I as we are opening our new bbq place at the end of December. Thanks for sharing your excellent adventure.
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Jarhead
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Joined: 11 Oct 2009
Posts: 7355
Location: Marionville, Home of the White Squirrels, Missouri

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21 12 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done Jeff.
I've read all of the ups and downs since you started.
To all that have not followed along with Jeff and his wifes's success, it's all in the 124 pages before this one.
Grab a 12 or 30 pack and enjoy the ride.
Thank you for your inspiration and stick-to-it-iv-ness. ( I think that's a word? Laughing )
Happy Thanksgiving
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Geronimo
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Joined: 29 Jul 2007
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Location: Montgomery, Texas (and lovin' it)

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21 12 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You seem to have done well...now when are you going to sell out and move on to your next adventure? Shocked Shocked
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GF
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Joined: 30 Apr 2011
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Location: Greenwich, CT.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21 12 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jarhead wrote:
Well done Jeff.
I've read all of the ups and downs since you started.
To all that have not followed along with Jeff and his wifes's success, it's all in the 124 pages before this one.
Grab a 12 or 30 pack and enjoy the ride.
Thank you for your inspiration and stick-to-it-iv-ness. ( I think that's a word? Laughing )
Happy Thanksgiving


Jarhead, a 30 pack ain't gonna make it brother, that would mean reading 82 posts a beer. Shocked

JAllen, I've also enjoyed this thread, always something happening. Cool
Best wishes for continued success, keep the updates coming. Very Happy
Happy Thanksgiving.
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JAllen
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Joined: 27 Oct 2010
Posts: 1675
Location: Bishkek

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22 12 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GF, camdentom, Geronimo, Jarhead,

thanks a lot guys. You have been a great source of inspiration and information over the past months.
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SoEzzy
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Joined: 13 Oct 2006
Posts: 13184
Location: SLC, UT

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08 12 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just got a sad email from a new member about JAllen.

Quote:
His place is called Smokies in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan and he has a 125 page blog on your site. I wanted to pass along to all the people that read his blog that he passed away two nights ago.

He had a heart attack. If you can give me access I will add it to his blog so at least everyone will know why he stopped posting. I made my user name Smokies. But for some reason it says I need to contact an administrator. I am just trying to give his blog and his reader closure. Thank you for any help you can give me.


Smokies account is active, and I hope he'll be able to answer any further questions people have.

Condolences and prayers to his family.

Go hug a loved one now... while you still can!
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Maniac
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Joined: 02 Oct 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09 12 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

prayers going out to his family
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Hotforteacherbbq
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Joined: 26 Dec 2008
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Location: Northeast, Ga

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09 12 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Praying for family. So sad.
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Jarhead
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Joined: 11 Oct 2009
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Location: Marionville, Home of the White Squirrels, Missouri

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09 12 2:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My condolences and prayers for his family.
Jeff, my friend, you will surely be missed here on The Ring.
Party time in that big "J-Lo Room" in the sky. Jeff's in the house!!!
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qfanatic01
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Joined: 21 Oct 2009
Posts: 764
Location: Champlin, MN

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09 12 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh my gosh!! What a loss. Best wishes to his wife and family. SoEzzy, you should make this blog a sticky to keep it at the top of this section, Jeff went out of his way to make this a great thread. What an honor to have read his stories.
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YardFullOfOak
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Joined: 10 Apr 2011
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Location: In the woods of Sweden

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09 12 4:19 am    Post subject: Condolences Reply with quote

Many of us have followed this thread since its inception, and many of us have also exchanged messages and emails with JAllen outside this thread.

JAllen's achievements were remarkable. It was quite clear at times that living the dream was taking its toll, but never could we imagine that the price to pay would be so high.

While JAllen will be sorely missed on The Smoke Ring, he will leave a much bigger hole at home. Condolences to Mrs JAllen and the children.
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1buckie
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Joined: 10 May 2009
Posts: 3290
Location: Sacramento CA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09 12 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is really sad news.... Take care, Mrs. JAllen & the boys.....

What a wild ride & such a sad ending........
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Jarhead
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09 12 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Chris for making this thread a sticky. That way all can see.
In fact I got on here, just recommend that.
Again, my thoughts and prayers to the Mrs. Jeff and the kids.
Debbie says the same.
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Ridge View BBQ
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Location: Charleston WV West Virginia

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10 12 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently posted that I wish I would have documented our own restaurant as well as Jeff did. I also told him that I had not read his entire thread do to a lack of time, but that I would read it in its entirety at some point in time. That's a promise I intend to keep.
Jim
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82's BBQ
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10 12 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm truly at a loss of words. Our condolences go out to his family. Hope the J-Lo room is just as entertaining in heaven as it was on earth.
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Geronimo
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10 12 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am at a loss for words! Sad Sad

Jeff was a very young man so it goes to show you...you never know when your time will come. His family will surely miss him.
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camdentom
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Joined: 22 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10 12 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, I feel like I've lost a friend. I've followed this thread since his first post and have thoroughly enjoyed every post. My deepest condolences to his wife and kids. A real loss for TSR. Sad
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10 12 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is an email I received from JAllen's cousin Michelle.


Hi. My name is Michelle.

This message is for the followers of my cousin, JAllen's blog. I found out about this site just 2 days ago, so I've only begun to scratch the surface of it, but I could tell right away the connections Jeff had made, and continued to hold, with those that followed his story.

This morning I decided to jump to the end of the 125 pages to find his last few posts, as well as the posts from yesterday (Dec. Cool from other members regarding his death-such kind words you all had for him, his wife and their boys. Being just 1-year older than Jeff, and growing up roughly 30 miles apart, I had a pretty close relationship with my cousin, thanks to holidays and get-togethers with our fairly small, close-knit family. When he joined the Peace Corps and left the states 20-years ago, we didn't stay in touch as much as I wish we had, only seeing each other a handful of times.

Hearing stories over the years, mostly from our Grandmother (who sadly just passed in Oct.), I did have a idea of what his life was like in such a far away place, but his blog is the story (the last couple of years anyway). coming straight from him, from his heart Always thinking how brave and inspiring he was for choosing this path, now reading his blog along with things his followers had to say, it drives home for me, what a truly driven, hard-working and inspirational person he was.

Sorry this has gotten so long, but there was no way for me to say it in just a few words. I want to thank all of you on this site who, by simply posting your thoughts, comments and ideas to someone half-way around the world, who happened to share in the interest of BBQ-ing, you all helped keep his story going, which in turn has given his grieving family some comfort.

For me personally, it has helped me remember what a unique, special person my cousin was. Rest in peace, Jeff--you have no idea how much you'll be missed. God Bless you all and Happy Holidays.

Michelle
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