Food carts are all the rage these days, so those looking to make a scene had better be practitioners of some bang-up and stand-out design or some absolutely unparalleled eats. Lucky Salt Lakers, Dottie's Biscuit Barn is packing heat in both categories. That isn't just COLLECTIVE opining, either -- it would seem our city agrees in whole. Dottie's was just named City Weekly's Best Food Cart, so...yeah.
Here's the thing: it seems like everyone is trying to peddle everything these days, but I'm not really looking to roll up on a food truck with a four-page menu. Those that know their shit know that it's best to find what you do and do that. Dottie's is 100% on board with this method. And what they do is biscuits and gravy. Sure, they also do pies, but in my world, these two sources of happiness are of the same cloth. If I'm gonna eat a flaky, buttery orb shrouded in jam or gravy, I wanna follow it up with a slice of pie. Or vice-versa.
The mind and hand behind Dottie's belong to Andrew Walter. He's a man well equipped for an undertaking like this one. The barn is named after his mom, and he happens to have some fairly strong feelings in regards to real biscuits and gravy [see his second answer, below]. Andy's also the son of a chef, so he learned to cook at an early age. According to him, "Moving to Utah to chase powder and bigger mountains, I got back into the food and beverage industry to subsidize my skiing addiction. I enjoy gardening, cooking, drinking [right?], and learning about culinary traditions. The systems that are developed to build successfully-consistent restaurant experiences are fascinating; the dance that is taking place to provide you with your meal is so fun to create. Dottie's is a passion for me, it's more than just the food. Overcoming fears of failure and seeing something through to fruition has been eye opening and liberating."
Last summer, at about the same time that Dottie's was coming together, Andy and now-fiancee Sarah Callicutt got engaged. She held him together through the process, then promptly set to work hawking mass amounts of biscuits on the front end. Last summer, at our COLLECTIVE Brew 'n' 'Q, they supplied us with some some oh-muh-gawd-that's-good pie. Dottie's will soon be adding fried chicken to the menu [hells yes!], in addition to more gravy and pie options. They'll also be parked happily at the Downtown Farmer's Market each and every Saturday, where they'll be cooking with 100% solar-power. Find them there, or at the Park Silly Market [each Sunday as of June] and Craft Lake City. We asked Andy a few questions about the biscuits, the barn, and the best that's yet to come. Read on for the straight-up gravy...
Food carts are obviously on the upswing these days...what made you want to get involved? What sparked this all? Oh brother (sister), thats a long story. I grew up in the industry, my father is a great chef and my mother (Dottie!) is a professional at all things event planning, marketing, management, etc. I've had a lifelong passion for quality food and finally jumped into this game after hurdling some fears and set out to build something with a unique esthetic. Dottie's was sparked by my desire to build a small business, get my hands dirty, and bring some simple, country flavors to the food cart scene in Utah.
You have a pretty distinct dish in the food-cart genre. Talk to us about the biscuits and gravy: Delicious right? Add a side of fresh, homemade jam or put a fried Clifford Family Farm egg on top...heavenly. Biscuits are one of those things people love, but too often they grab a tube of Pillsbury at the store and throw in the oven. That's not a real biscuit. The biscuit is a vehicle for gravy, butter, jam, honey, maple syrup, hot sauce, etc. And gravy? That's not just sausage, milk, and rue...it can (and is) being made with fresh heirloom tomatoes, tomatillos, pulled pork, wild mushrooms, coffee, lamb, etc. We use fresh buttermilk given to us by cheese makers in state. That's a real biscuit...something you'd be proud to serve to your grandmother.
Pies. You do pies, too [as we tasted at last summer's Brew 'n' 'Q]. Are they your recipes? And does it stop at biscuits + gravy and pies? Indeed. Who doesn't like a slice of fresh pie? Alarmingly, I've learned that the folks born and raised in Utah are not that hungry for pie. However, this city is full of transplants and we are here to satisfy their pie needs and convert those uneducated on the pleasures of pie. This summer we'll be serving homemade ice cream with our pie, also made by our team. We source all our fruit locally, pick much of it ourselves, and make our crust with 100% butter. Peach, cherry, apple, apricot, strawberry, rhubarb, blackberry, raspberry...Utah has it all.
Let's chat about the [no doubt] attention-getting barn itself. Who hammered that adorable kitchen together? An awesome team of friends. That barn was an exercise in community building and letting individual talents shine. I built a friendship with Martin Retzlaff last spring while building Dottie's. He's the father of a good friend, an incredible wood worker, and owns every tool you can imagine. I came to him first, knowing I needed someone with his experience and workshop. David Heiblim was a rock star on this project, as well. He brought real pizza to Salt Lake via Este and is an incredible problem solver, tinkerer, and hard worker. We went through a lot in the process and came out close friends. As for the building materials, we started with an old camper trailer that we tore down to the decking, framed it up with 2x3s, and all the wood came from local fences, old sheds, and friend's stashes. The wood used for the facade was given to us by Cruiser Rowland (Jack Mormon Coffee)...it's old flooring from a cotton mill in Mississippi. The windows came from a lady's closet, the corrugated metal roofing was from an old dairy barn in Kamas, and we found some old Mason jars to use for lighting.
Where can locals find you parked on any given day of the week? We're focused on the farmer's markets, large events, and building a catering business. We were lucky enough to get a spot at the Downtown Farmer's Market in Pioneer Park last summer, and we'll be there EVERY Saturday this summer. The team up at Park Silly is hammering out the final details of our acceptance there, so we'll be in Park City every Sunday starting in early June. Look for us at Craft Lake City and other special events in town.
Say I'm having a breakfast party for Gay Pride...can I have Dottie's roll up and supply my boozy guests with food? Absolutely, we are looking to cater private parties! We're working on menu ideas and think our little barn would be an incredible addition to your party. Catered brunches, pie and ice cream socials, biscuit sliders for your block party, a unique cocktail station at your wedding (at least, that's what we're doing at our wedding). Give us a ring!
What are some of your favorite restaurants in our salty city, and why? I like any restaurant that is consistent and focused on doing what it does well. This is a touch biased, but I think the proof is the in pudding; The Copper Onion excels in providing a consistent product, from the food and drink, to the service. Ryan, Clint, and Jimmy have really nailed the whole package. I think Pago is outstanding for the same reasons, and I love how both places are supporting local farmers and businesses. Naked Fish is killing it right now, if I could throw down on one meal right now, I'd go there. Roots Cafe is my go to breakfast spot at this point, they use quality ingredients, although again, Copper Onion's breakfast is insane. Like so many of us, I am excited to be in Salt Lake City as its culinary awakening takes place.
What's coming down the rails for Dottie's BB? Any good stuff we can get folks excited about [already-delicious servings aside]? More and more menu development, i.e. more gravy and pie options, fried chicken, and ice cream. Aside from food, we're building a new website, focusing on catering options, hiring an assistant for myself, finishing our solar project, designing a t-shirt with Leia Bell, and scheming to serve biscuits and gravy on the playa this year! We're working to be at more summer events within the city and even reached out to the boys at Gravy Train (poutine for the masses) to hold a "gravy off" to benefit a local non-profit...Canada vs. America! In the long run, we want to build our concept into a Salt Lake City staple. I think there is room (and a need) for a breakfast and lunch spot that is focused on a distinct approach. Want to invest in a restaurant? Give me a call!
Dottie's Biscuit Barn | Contact Andrew Walter at [email protected] or call 801.231.9550