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Crazycarl’s BBQ serving up Texan flavor in Brandon
Couple launches business out of Brandon 1st Stop
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

January 30. 2013 6:00AM
Got a hankerin’ for some Texas barbecue?

Well you won’t have to hit the road for the Lone Star state, as that Texan flavor is now being served in Brandon via Crazycarl’s BBQ.

Co-owners Carl Brakke and Jo Hausman have set up shop at Brandon 1st Stop, and are now serving ribs, brisket, pulled pork, wings and more from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. They take Sundays off, but are offering a Super Bowl special from noon to 5 p.m. this Sunday.

“We get called in most Sundays,” Carl says, “which is funny when we’re closed Sundays.”

But the BBQ connoisseurs don’t mind the extra work. They are, after all, building their business.

“The word’s still getting out,” Carl adds.

Brandon 1st Stop owner Ann Evangelisto says Crazycarl’s has been a good addition to her convenience store. While it’s not the combination restaurant-bar she attempted to start last year, it’s a step closer to fulfilling that dream.

“This is a step I had not anticipated or the step I thought I’d be taking,” Evangelisto said. “But Jo and Carl are just great people and do a good job of what they’re doing.”
The BBQ offerings have also increased traffic at Brandon 1st Stop.

“I believe we’re seeing new faces as there’s a lot of interest in Crazycarl’s,” she said. “So it makes for a nice collaboration.”

Brandon 1st Stop, however, isn’t the only place to enjoy Crazycarl’s BBQ. Evangelisto also owns and operates the Monarch in Renner, where once a month Crazycarl’s ribs are served.

“It’s been well received,” Evangelisto confirms.

The first time, Brakke smoked up 30 racks of ribs, and they ran out by7 p.m.

He doubled that amount the next month, but again, the diners gobbled them up – this time by 7:30.

“So there appears to be a huge interest in real BBQ here,” Evangelisto said.

And that’s how Crazycarl’s BBQ got its start. Brakke, a hobbyist by nature, was asked by a friend to help build an offset (or indirect) BBQ pit. So he obliged, which started a chain of BBQ pit building for Brakke.

“I started cooking for family and then went to cook-offs and won there,” Brakke recalled.

He also took orders for custom-built BBQ pits, and to date, has built 14. He’s patterned the smokers after a John Deere tractor, modified and sprint cars, and even a Western theme. He’s currently working on one that will appear to have a motorcycle coming out of the cooker.

“Every cooker has a theme,” he said.

While the idea of starting a BBQ business was in the back of Brakke’s mind for about five years, it came to reality after Hausman began staging her fundraisers for a bid at the South Dakota House of Representatives on the grounds of Brandon 1st Stop.

“That’s when we knew BBQ would go over,” Hausman said.

While Hausman didn’t win the election, Crazycarl’s BBQ was ranking high on the list of local diners such as Bob Stevens, who lives across the street from Brandon 1st Stop. Following the election, he was excited to learn that Crazycarl’s BBQ wasn’t going away.

“The ribs are good – you can’t go wrong,” he says. “I enjoy eating them and the girlfriend does too.”

The couple launched their business the weekend of Thanksgiving. They started out being open two days a week, increasing it from three to four to now six days – lunch and supper.

And that increase is keeping Brakke’s custom made BBQ pit smoking. He started out cooking up a case of ribs and pork loins each week and has since bumped that up to three to four cases of ribs and six to 10 cases of pork loin a week.

Brakke and Hausman also hope to take their business on the road. They’ll have two booths during the June 28 Automania event in Brandon and are planning to be at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. They got a test run this past summer when Tour de Kota came to town, and at Brandon Hometown Days.

“Both events there went over well,” Brakke says.

Besides the mouth-watering meats Brakke is cooking up, their homemade side dishes are also grabbing some attention. Potato salad, coleslaw, meaty beans, loaded potatoes, corn bread, macaroni and cheese are just a few of the offerings. And they recently expanded their menu, which now includes loaded nachos highlighted by their green gringo salsa sauce. They make their own sweet honey BBQ sauce, too.

If you’re not up for a drive to Brandon 1st Stop, Crazycarl’s BBQ also provides free delivery.

Brakke said the menu is always evolving. And that’s due largely to feedback from his customers.

“We do listen,” Brakke said. “And we put that on our website ( too. We want your feedback because the customer’s drive the menu.”

But Brakke wants to keep his menu simple too.

“We don’t want a menu so complicated that it reads like a book,” he said.
Owners: Carl Brakke & Jo Hausman
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. – Monday thru Saturday
Phone: (605) 553-7731
Address: 600 N. Splitrock Blvd.
Offerings: Take-out, delivery & catering

Crazycarl's BBQ owners Carl Brakke and Jo Hausman are cooking up some southern BBQ in Brandon. The duo launched the business on Thanksgiving weekend and are now operating at Brandon 1st Stop 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday thru Saturday. Photo by Jill Meier

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