We the Brisket
Most know John Riesebeck from his Gulfport place for ribs – Smokin’ J’s Real Texas BBQ – but lately his restaurant has been the parking place for an American flag-wrapped food truck on Sunday nights and Monday afternoons.
Ted Easterbrook, owner of Ted’s Firearms in St. Petersburg, owns the Patriot Grill Food Truck. Easterbrook also runs Hot Pursuit Catering and BBQ, a mirror food truck that shows up for office parties and outdoor events.
Riesebeck is a partner in the concept, and the two have set out to bring the Patriot Grill to places like Dog Bar on Central Avenue and Smokin’ J’s on Sunday nights.
Why the heavy patriot themes alongside cookout favorites?
“This is America,” said Easterbrook. “I believe in this country, I love our military and I love what the constitution stands for. But this isn’t political.”
Both business partners [and cooks] deny any ties between the food truck itself and political parties, but Riesebeck received both positive and negative feedback concerning the design of the vehicle.
“It’s not that the food truck is political, it’s the people that make it political,” Riesebeck told The Gabber. “I made a Facebook post about it and in five hours it became a huge political debate in the comments … some people love it.”
The truck first made an appearance at VETSports Heroes Weekend on the Gulfport Beach Volleyball Courts this past November; Easterbrook donated profits to a veteran’s charity.
“It’s not Smokin’ J’s; it’s not Hot Pursuit,” Riesebeck said. “It’s a food truck.”
For now, the two-man BBQ show lives on in the Smokin’ J’s parking lot on Sunday nights from 10 p.m.-12 a.m.
The pair sell BBQ, hot dogs, hamburgers, philly cheese steaks, and similar food items around St. Petersburg while they ‘work out the kinks.’
Although Gulfport doesn’t allow food trucks on public property, on private property, they’re OK.
“They [food trucks] must be on private property,” Gulfport City Manager Jim O’Reilly told The Gabber. “They are prohibited on public property, according to the ordinance.”
A Missing Face
Wendy Ohlendorf runs Mermaid Mercantile, a metaphysical crystal and jewelry boutique on Gulfport’s Beach Boulevard – but she’s been out of commission while the shop sells on for over six weeks.
The Portland, Oregon native is recovering from invasive back surgery, and has been mostly out of the shop, barring visiting on First Friday Art Markets and other events.
“It’s so annoying, it’s really hard knowing every stitch of inventory … going from that to relying on others,” Ohlendorf said. “I love the shop. It really is hard for me to be laying in bed.”
Ohlendorf hired an additional part time staff member to aid her, but she’s looking forward to making it back as soon as her body allows it.
“Little by little I’m getting better … there’s too much I want to do in life to just allow this to take over,” the business owner said. “I love this community, and I think people really love my little boutique.”
Previously, the business owner ran Vintage Small Bites & Wine Lounge in the Gulfport Beach Boulevard courtyard and worked (and continues to work) as a fashion designer.
Cypress Wellness Center wants to expand and add six additional mental wellness professionals.
Owner and therapist Dr. Katie Schubert says she’s expanding through the wall of the closed next door salon at her office (563 49th St. S.).
“Right now, we are a group of 16 mental health therapists,” Shubert said. “We are looking for art therapists, social workers, and wellness professionals for our expansion in mid-January.”
The center will either hire or rent the space to professionals. Shubert has an additional location on Central Avenue