This BBQ favorite of misplaced Texans and Orange County locals lures guests with the unmistakable taste and scent of smoke and slow-cooked meat.
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. August 2012 After 16 years of successful business in Anaheim, Blake’s Place just opened its second location. Owner Gene Hobel and Mike Rhodes (see photo), his partner at Los Alamitos, had been considering a new store and different areas were considered. “When we saw this place, (formerly fast food chicken) was open, we jumped on it,” Hobel says.
Open just a couple months, he is more than satisfied with business so far. “Both locations have pluses. In the other (Anaheim) lunch is always busy Monday to Friday, dinner slower. Here it’s the opposite.” In spite of a few challenges, each day gets a little better and smoother. “We got more business than we expected with a soft opening and no advertising.”
His quick serve concept has allowed him to keep his prices down (see below).
His meat is treated with a dry rub, except the chicken, the meat is smoked and in the last hour brushed with their basting sauce. Jars of his signature BBQ sauce are on the table but the meat is so flavorful already, it’s hardly needed. The pulled pork, pulled BBQ chicken and chopped beef brisket are all tender, moist and flavorful. Sandwiches and salads round out the menu with some sides.
Hobel began his career in college just looking for a way to make money. Discovering he liked the industry he continued as a manager of fine dinner houses around southern California for several years. He realized he was hostage, at the mercy of to his chef when something in the kitchen went wrong. So he decided to attend culinary school. At the time, Hobel is in his 50s, he found two major culinary schools with much stricter requirements for entry than today. The Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York and the Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He chose San Francisco and worked in a few high-end restaurants before returning home to manage Claim Jumpers.
“I realized high-end dining requires the chef be hands-on every day to work,” he says. He wanted time for his son Blake, for whom his restaurant is named. “I wanted balance, I came up with a concept so I would have time to coach my son.”
A high energy person, Hobel enjoys the pace and finds gratification in making food people enjoy. “I also want to make them feel at home. I teach my staff to treat them as if they were coming to their home. When someone comes over you give them your best.” His cheerful, welcoming servers seemed to have absorbed the lesson.
If you’re feeling bold, try the spicier BBQ sauce. A little bit of either the regular or spicy versions enhance the potato salad and creamy coleslaw.
His prices encourage regular visits, no special occasion necessary.
BRISKET OR CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD $7.99
Fresh cut Romaine lettuce topped with smoked brisket or chicken breast, tomato, seasoned croutons, parmesan cheese and tossed with Caesar dressing
BUFFALO CHICKEN SALAD $7.99
Crispy chicken strips tossed in Blake’s spicy wing sauce. Served on a bed of fresh lettuce with bleu cheese crumbles, shredded carrots & tomato. Try our fresh Bleu cheesing dressing.
SMOKED SIRLOIN SANDWICH $6.79
Beef Sirloin smoked rare, chilled and thinly sliced served with lettuce, tomato, sliced red onion and mayonnaise on a French roll
TUNA SANDWICH $6.99
All white meat tuna salad, tomato and lettuce on whole grain bread
SMOKED MEAT & RIB PLATE $12.99
Pork ribs or beef ribs and choice of one smoked meat
TASHA’S BBQ TRIO $7.99
Real BBQ sandwich sampler, pulled pork, chopped beef brisket & pulled chicken each served on a half French roll with Blake’s BBQ sauce and a side of cole slaw
PHILLY BRISKET SANDWICH $6.99
Sliced beef brisket with grilled bell peppers, onions and melted Swiss cheese on a French roll