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Pop's BBQ planning to smoke hundreds of pounds of meat for Juneteenth festivities

Posted at 6:51 PM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 19:51:43-04

MILWAUKEE — Barbecue for breakfast?!

The time of day doesn't stop people from lining up for Pop's BBQ at the corner 76th and Good Hope every Thursday and Friday.

"Mornings, we open about 9, they start getting in line about 8, 8:30," says owner Michael Hester. "It's just that good, I guess! I mean, thank God for it."

Hester says his grill is like a beacon drawing people in.

"It'll smoke up the city for miles and miles around," he says. "Godzilla does everything we want it to do."

Godzilla is the grill's affectionate nickname, and it really is a monster. On a good day, it's loaded with 75 racks of ribs, more than 500 pounds of rib tips, and plenty of smoked chicken breast.

"If you let the smoke do the cooking for you on your smoked chicken, you won't dry it out," Hester says.

Pop's BBQ serves Memphis style — something Hester learned about as a little boy.

"Where I was from, we didn't have any choice but to cook barbecue in the pit," he says. "I would always hang out with the older men and that's all we would do, is cook barbecue and barbecue and barbecue. So it sort of rubbed off on me and it stayed with me."

It was a social activity — something that helped the community bond, which is still true today.

"Every Friday and Saturday, it's a social activity going on the corner!" Hester says.

As Juneteenth gets closer, Hester expects to be very busy. He's excited to serve his food to all of Milwaukee.

"If you look around my line, we're multi-mixed. People of all nationalities come through and we treat them like people. It's not just one of me and one of someone else. You have to treat people the way you want to be treated."

And Hester knows good food draws good people.

"It's drawing the community back together and that's what we need more of — drawing the community back together."

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