New on the scene in Midland is Molasses Smokehouse and Bar. The exciting addition to the evolving downtown district has garnered hype surrounding its barbecue delicacies, and the commotion isn’t just a matter of blowing smoke. Rather, this dining experience cracks open the barbecue history books to bring patrons an authentic taste of St. Louis-style barbecue – known for its sweet, sticky, bold flavor.
Molasses has been long in the making, even before a clear vision came into focus. The brains behind this project, Downtown Restaurant Investments, a group formed by industry veteran Dave Dittenber, has had its eyes set on Midland as a future destination for some time. Having already established recognition for its previous ventures in Bay City (Old City Hall, American Kitchen, Tavern 101) and with many of its core staff being area natives, the group hoped to bring an exciting destination to the downtown area in hopes of fueling the district’s ongoing revitalization.
“Having grown up here, it’s nice to see Midland have a comeback. It means a lot to us personally. Dave and I are both raising our families here, so we want to build that up. We want to do everything we can to promote a great growth in the area,” said Kurt Busard, chief brand officer for Downtown Restaurant Investments and general manager of Molasses Smokehouse and Bar. “We’ve been looking at spots here for probably the better part of 10 years. But the timing was right, and Midland has been rebuilding its infrastructure form the ground up, so that attracted us to get in now.”
While tradition and authenticity remain at the heart of Molasses, they still make room for innovation. In addition to barbecue and barroom staples – like smoked brisket, pork, ribs and turkey – they are also serving up variations on Korean barbecue favorites such as banh mi in addition to vegetarian jackfruit alternatives. When paired with its impressive beer and cocktail offerings, Molasses has crafted a unique collective of menu items to satisfy the desires of any diner.
“With each of our restaurants, we really want to build from a neat, central concept, but here we didn’t want to exclude anyone,” explained Busard. “We offer a lot of different barbecue styles and have made an addition
to make sure this is a place where everyone could be included. We don’t want to leave anyone out.”
Traditionally, Downtown Restaurant Investments doesn’t have much experience in the world of barbecue – leaning more heavily toward French-inspired culinary offerings in its ventures. Those who know barbecue know it’s a style that takes master craftsmanship. From learning each cut of meat and how to develop a unique and flavorful sauce to the trivial pursuit of perfecting smoking techniques and cook times, the practice takes experience and knowledge to deliver memorable meals. Luckily, Molasses has been blessed with a barbecue master in Steve Seige, an industry veteran best known for owning and operating the award-winning former Rusty Saw Smokehouse in Hemlock, Michigan.
“Having Steve on board has been essential. Smokehouses and barbecuing require more of an apprenticeship style of cooking, and it’s not something you can simply learn at a culinary school,” Busard said. “To have Steve come through and be a part of what we’re trying to do at Molasses is what made what we were trying to do real. Once we got him on board, we knew we could do this. With him here, we’re able to take that learning
curve away and deliver great barbecue right out of the gate.”
Thus far, Molasses has proven itself to be a prime choice for many as a go-to destination for delicious barbecue in the heart of downtown Midland. Still, in its inaugural year, Molasses Smokehouse and Bar is expected to
grow into a staple for saucy southern favorites.
Molasses Smokehouse and Bar is at 201 E. Main St. in Midland. For more information, call (989) 486-9730 or visit molassesbbq.com.
All Rights Reserved Great Lakes Bay Business and Lifestyle Magazine