Jan 20, 2006

Po Moe's: Grilling Up A Slab Of Heaven

Left: Po Moe's mobile restaurant; all photos by historymike

(Toledo, OH) Technically speaking this post belongs on Toledo Restaurant Reviews, a site launched by a loose collection of local writers and culinary afficianados. However, there is much more to this story than raving about some great barbecue.

"Po Moe" is Morris Stanley, a Toledoan with dreams of bringing his love of preparing great-tasting food to a wider audience. His operation is based in the cental city on the corner of Bancroft and Sylvan, just west of Detroit Avenue.

"It's called "Po" Moe's because there are few people poorer than me," Stanley joked. "But we love what we're doing and people keep coming back."

Left: ribs and chicken grilling on one of Po Moe's outdoor grills

The restaurant follows the summer festival cicuit in the region.

"We cover a lot of the Detroit area festivals," said Stanley. "We also hit quite a few in Toledo."

One festival in which Stanley will no longer be participating is the Toledo Rib-Off.

"When it was on the riverfront we were there every year," said Stanley. "But we are not going down to Maumee. They want $3800 up front, and there is no boater traffic like when it was on the river."

Left: tending the grill

When not traveling to an event, Stanley keeps the operation up and running on Bancroft.

"We open up on weekends, and any day the weather is decent," said Stanley. "People see the smoke from the fires and smell the barbecue, and they pull right up."

Stanley also holds down a full-time job at BP, so he opens up the restaurant "whenever I can."

I have always been unable to resist passing up good barbecue, just like my inability to decline a bratwurst with sauerkraut. The next time you are traveling near Po Moe's, pull off for some of the best barbecue in the city.

However, you won't be able to find Po Moe's open on February 5.

"We are traveling up to Detroit for the Super Bowl," Stanley said. "We have a spot on Woodward across from the Hard Rock Cafe."

Could there possibly be a better way to spend a day than eating barbecue and watching the Super Bowl?


Anonymous said...

I've seen that place but never stopped. Thanks for reminding me!

Anonymous said...

I'll have to try it out.

Lisa Renee said...

(Lisa recalls something about a new year's resolution.....)


historymike said...

Ah, yes - the New Year's resolutions...

Haven't lost a pound since mid-December, I'm afraid, and stops like the one today don't help...

Lisa Renee said...

I think it's rather unfair the rib off is charging that much in advance, that means alot of the smaller places that I preferred aren't going to be able to justify it.

That's very disappointing.

(tsk tsk on the diet)

BrianMaxson said...

You know, I've indulged at Frank Unkles and Ricardo's in my time, but when you're looking for good ol' rib-sticking eats, I've found places like Po' Moe's to have the best food.

When I was growing up, there was this dump called Yum-Yum's on Summit, across from Riverside Park, that had the most awesome, soul-melting chili sauce for their hot dogs. Everett, the owner at the time, would sit in his office on a Tuesday night and hand prepare the ingredients for the chili, working through the wee hours of the morning preparing his special chili.

Lie to you not, I've traversed these United States and I have yet to find an example of that chili anywhere.

Thank you Everett, for giving my childhood some kick ass chili dogs.

Anonymous said...

$3800 up front to set up your own Rib-grilling at the new location in Maumee for Rib-Off????!!!!???? OUTRAGEOUS! That's highway robbery.

Stephanie said...

Now I want to go to Toledo.

historymike said...

Brian: I wish I had visited YumYums; sounds like one of those tastes that you can always remember. My favorite Coney Island is still Lafayette Coney Island in downtown Detroit.

Anonymous: Yes, $3800 is a lot of money, especially when no one knows what the trafic will be in the new location. I think Morris Stanley is right about the boat traffic making the difference on the river.

Stephanie: Toledo is a great place to visit, and generally a great place to raise a family (although the economy has been tough since the 980s). We have a world-class art museum and zoo, and some great historical sites.

However, the collective mindset of the people can be frustrating. Too many Toledoans lack the ability to envision the city as a diamond in the rough, and have a sort of small-town mentality.

historymike said...

Also, Stephanie:

On an earlier post you referencd stories about people as being your favorite post to read on this blog.

The idea to post this took me about 1.5 seconds. I was flying up Bancroft from downtown on my way back to the university when I saw Po Moe's. I made a U-turn, pulled in, took a couple of pics, and chatted with Morris for about ten minutes.

I spent, all told, maybe 30 minutes on this, including writing and formatting the HTML.

This type of story almost writes itself, and even though I didn't submit it to a publication for which I will draw a check, it is very rewarding to me to capture stories like this.

historymike said...

One other point:

Morris Stanley, to me, is the ultimate in the American dream.

He has a full time job, but he has a vision and the determination to make that happen. He also has the faith that he can make a better life for himself.

Finally, the enthusiasm for his work is infectious; I had a great time talking business with him, and it almost (I said ALMOST) made me long for the days when I was bitten by the entrepreneur bug (historymike was once a multi-unit restaurant owner in a previous incarnation for most of the 1990s).

Lisa Renee said...

I'm not sure how the new digs are going to be, without some of the smaller places it won't be the same. I was already not liking the idea of it not being by the river, that to me was one of the attraction points not just from a boater standpoint but as a visitor. Sitting down by the banks of the Maumee watching the boats, and the people, eating ribs is alot more enjoyable than feeling I'm at the Lucas County Fair minus the rides...

Stephanie said...

To me, before meeting up Lisa, the most interesting aspect of Toledo was Clinger. Now... I want to see it for myself. To visit...not to live. My husband and I grew up being bee-bopped around by our parents and wanted roots for our children. We're staying where were at as far as that goes.

But travel is still a long way off. We're still at the making ends-meet by stretching the strings phase of life. Add to that our children's special needs and travel becomes nearly impossible.

Still, "places" like Po Moe's are treasures of this country. Supporting such ventures is very important to our national well-being.

Here in Janesville there was a hot dog stand. Great food. They started out really small, just a transportable stand, then grew into a small, permanent location. Now they have a restaurant with seating space and the food is still great. It's been really fun to watch them grow and help support them while they do.

Restaurant owner to journalist...? That's an interesting jump. Maybe your next story people story should be your own.
Chasing the American dream can come in many forms, and each is a valuable aspect of our collective culture that enriches us all.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Po Moe's dropping out of the Rib Off will be Toledo's (or should I say Maumee's) loss.

Speaking of losses, I wonder how many other contenders will be priced out of participating in the Rib Off.

The Rib Off may just morph into a commercial "big boys only" event, losing most of its' former charm. That would be a shame...

Now that it will be easier this year than ever for me to attend, I will have to go this year.

Maybe someone will write a lengthy review with pictures (if he ever finds his camera and learns to write with sticky fingers)...

As for the Yum-Yum's, I haven't been out that way lately; used to go there every afternoon for a while, many years (26 - 28)ago, but I do remember the dogs, and especially that sauce, Yum Yum...