“I’m excited about the kick-off of the summer and getting the lake traffic,” he said. “We started practicing back in April and so we wanted to kick it off since it’s Mother’s Day weekend.”
Leroy’s, 203 E. Franklin St., Pomona, now is under the new ownership of Bielefeld and Devin Boswell, Bielefeld said.
“We were looking around trying to find something and there wasn’t nothing up in Topeka,” he said. “We stumbled onto this and one thing led to another and here we are.”
Bielefeld is no stranger to the restaurant industry, he said. He’s been in the food business since he was 13, starting out bussing tables and working in the kitchen.
“I’ve been in management and ownership all my life,” he said. “I was a general manager [at Wendy’s] and a training manager, and [Devin] was a training manager too. We just wanted to do our own thing.”
Leroy’s was closed for a brief period between March and April when the restaurant was going through ownership transition, he said.
Bielefeld and Boswell already are working on opening another location in Lyndon, Kan. Leroy’s Bar and BBQ tentatively is scheduled to open in June.
Since Bielefeld said he won’t be cooking any food at the Lyndon location, he said they’ll be smoking more meat and bringing it over from the Pomona location since it’s such a short distance.
“We’ll take the food over and when it’s gone, it’s gone,” he said. “It’s a different concept in another little town.”
The barbecue menu at Leroy’s has changed a bit from the previous owner’s offerings, but Bielefeld said he didn’t think the switch had stopped people from coming in.
“I’ve had good reviews about it all,” he said. “I think people like change. It’s kind of like with Mexican food. It’s all good, but some places it’s better than others. It’s the same with barbecue.”
Bielefeld makes his own barbecue sauce, as well as the rub for the meats, he said. Most everything is freshly made at the restaurant as opposed to store-bought.
“The beans are homemade and we don’t buy coleslaw. We make our own coleslaw,” he said. “Our hamburgers are hand-pattied. It’s fresh meat, never been frozen. Which makes a difference I feel.”
Being in the barbecue restaurant business isn’t easy and preparing the food is time consuming, Bielefeld said, but he enjoys it.
“There’s a lot of preparation to it. Anybody in the barbecue business knows that,” he said. “Smokin’s the most timely thing. It takes time to build the fire, then you’ve got to manage it and watch it.”
Choosing to open a barbecue restaurant, as opposed to a different style, was an easy choice, Bielefeld said, but he’d be happy cooking anything.
“I enjoy barbecue. It’s something a lot of people lean toward,” he said. “I can make anything. I just enjoy cooking. I enjoy doing it all.”
After working for someone else in the restaurant business for years, he said it was time to do something for himself and follow his passion, and he hopes others do the same.
“If it’s in your heart go for it. It’s about the simplest thing you can do,” he said. “If it’s your passion and you wanna do it, just follow your dream and do it. That’s what we’re doing.”
Leroy’s summer hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Leroy’s is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.