Business Matters: A Look Inside The Rib Cage
Every summer there’s a sweet smell in the air that lures people to a place near the Maple Grove-Dayton border. It’s a seasonal roadside barbecue stand where there’s little doubt what people are coming for.
“Cherry smoked meat,” said Sean Hendricks, referring to the cherry wood smoker used at The Rib Cage on County Road 81 and Brockton Lane.
“It’s delicious. The flavors there. Sauce or no sauce,” said customer Roxanne Dennison.
The Rib Cage became popular before food trucks ever became a thing. Started in 1991 by Vance Florell, son Victor took over the business. The Rib Cage has been in its current location since 2004.
“It just turned out to be the right recipe and the right sauce for this location. It’s really developed quite a following,” said Victor Florell, who took over the business from his father seven years ago.
Florell shows up at 4:30 a.m. every day to trim meat and start smoking racks of ribs.
“About the most I can do in a day is 60 or else I’d have to get here at midnight,” said Florell.
Like Father Like Son
Victor Florell developed his love of barbecue at a young age. And why not. Especially when your dad’s a cook.
“Barbecue is a favorite of mine from a very small age,” he said. “I was a big fan of the sauce right away, which made me want to hang out more. Eat enough to where he was getting frustrated with me probably.”
Florell started working for his dad in high school. He took over the business and kept it largely the same.
“I learned his way of doing it,” Florell said about his dad, Vance.
Victor kept the menu simple. About the only thing that did change was his purchase of a new smoker.
No Sauce Needed
Victor says you don’t need sauce for the meat. That’s even though the sauce is a family recipe.
“We want the meat to stand alone, where you don’t necessarily need the sauce,” said Florell.
Another point of pride is how customers are treated.
“Victor is a lot of energy,” said Mindy Zavodnick. “The people coming here, I would say the majority of the customers, 90 percent or more, already know him.”
And the customer base has no limits.
“We have CEOs of Fortune 500 companies as customers all the way down to young kids that are spending their lawn mowing money,” Florell said.
Customer Sean Hendricks says he frequents The Rib Cage regularly.
“I love to barbecue myself. He doesn’t give me any of his recipes, but I still love him,” said Hendricks. “It’s outstanding. I get their brats every time. He only had one left for me today. Yeah, they taste like candy.”
Florell says he does run out of some items when he gets closer to dinner time.
“It’s a blessing and a curse because it keeps everything fresh, but there’s also the disappointment,” he said. “People like their specific item.”
Victor credits his father for the success of the business.
“It’s been really fun to watch it become more popular,” he said of the barbecue food truck. “Just knowing that dad was kind of a pioneer in that line. Again, I tip my hat to him. I’m pretty proud of him.”