Al’s BBQ Shack serves meat ‘the way it was meant to be.’


Rodger Berger, 73 Lyme, New Hampshire talks to Al Brinkman owner of Al’s Barbeque Shack, 421 Grove Street, about his Brisket on Tuesday afternoon.

By Dave Gong

Across from the DeKalb Municipal Building at the corner of Fourth Street and Grove Street sits a small restaurant on wheels.

The restaurant is Al’s BBQ Shack, which has served smoked pork in DeKalb since July 22, 2010.

“Our motto is smoked meat is the way it was meant to be,” said owner Al Brinkman.

Brinkman said all the meat served is smoked on site in their “southern pride” smoker. Al’s BBQ Shack also developed its own recipes for coleslaw and beans, he said.

Al’s BBQ Shack won the 2010 50 Men Who Cook contest with its cup of pork topped with coleslaw, Brinkman said.

“It was the second week I was in operation,” Brinkman said.

Sue Hopper, account clerk at the DeKalb Municipal Building, said she has tried everything on the menu.

“It’s delicious,” Hopper said. “My husband really likes the brisket.”

Hopper said while she typically eats at Al’s once a month, several people at city hall eat there regularly.

“Several officers eat there,” Hopper said.

Brinkman said he thinks his business is great as far as attracting customers goes, averaging between 40 to 70 transactions per day.

“We got into this because there was nothing like this around,” Brinkman said, “The first thing we said is we want to do it exactly how we would want.”

None of the meat served at Al’s comes with sauce on it, which allows customers to mix and match the three different types of barbecue sauces available, Brinkman said. Al’s offers sweet, tangy and classic barbecue sauces for its sandwiches.

Sugar Grove resident Bruce Slamans said he has worked in DeKalb for two years and had never eaten at Al’s before Tuesday.

“The food is fantastic,” Slamans said. “Their ability to offer samples is fantastic, and the owner out here greeting people is really nice.”

Every new customer is offered free samples of everything on the menu except the ribs, Brinkman said.

“My dream is to have a brick-and-mortar place and have somebody manage that,” he said.

Al’s BBQ Shack is set to close for the winter on Oct. 29 and will re-open sometime in early April, Brinkman said.