There's never enough barbecue

I'm watching Ocean's 11 right now, because I've been thinking lately about the scene where everybody learns about the casino heist. In the movie's fictional universe, the casino is required to have enough cash on hand to cover every chip, every slot, every bet on the floor.

A lot of Madison has been talking about Porky Pine Pete's SmokeHouse BBQ in recent weeks. It's a new transplant to the city, and folks are getting their hats blown off by the quality of the meat. But they're also talking about something less enjoyable: how often Pete's runs out of ribs.

Katiebot5000 writes on Twitter:
how can a fucking BBQ place be out of RIBS? #porkypinepetesSUCKS also out of a few other things, arghhh!

Stebben84 writes on The Daily Page Forum:
I will try and go back some day, but I'll want assurance that I can actually get served and that they'll not run out out of their signature food.

Those that loved the place can slam me for being impatient or whatever, but even if I would have stayed, I couldn't have what I went there for.

I would encourage these folks, fully justified in their disappointment, to the following Google search: barbecue "runs out".

A defining trait of good, serious barbecue is that it takes a long time to make, and doesn't suffer well long stretches under heat lamps. You prep it, you cook it, you serve it, someone eats it. Bing bang boom. You can't stop at lunch, see how much is left, and start cranking out more for the dinner rush. If you're out by 3:30, you're out for the day. The 'cue joints listed in the above search all warn potential diners that stuff's liable to be unavailable. That's a hallmark of good barbecue: customers eat it until it's gone.

This flies in the face of pretty much every other kind of restaurant in America. Cover all bets. If someone wants steak au poivre at 9:45, fire the grill. If you can't serve it when it's ordered, you're out at least one free meal and probably a drink. When Popeye's runs out of chicken, that's unforgivable.

When Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis runs out of barbecue, though, it barely makes the write-up on the Riverfront Times website.

It's a veritable Zen koan of cuisine: what does a barbecue spot serve when it runs out of barbecue? The answer is, for better or worse, its reputation. Porky Pine Pete's needs to make sure people know that they're a real barbecue house, and sometimes things are too good to last. Otherwise, well-meaning but intemperate folks like the two I quoted above will just stop going. And that's not the reputation that Porky Pine Pete's deserves.