The hamburger at Smokin Bar-B-Que is a full half-pound patty that’s been smoked for 2 ½ hours in beef broth. (Staff photo by Connie Post)

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It was the only barbecue he could find that could hold up to the Central Texas BBQ he was spoiled with as an intern. 

Now he is the proud owner of a barbecue restaurant in Dayton, Ohio. 

Smokin’ Bar-B-Que has been sold to AJ and Branden Bauer. Don Phlipot owned the restaurant for 15 years before his death in February. Phlipot opened the restaurant along with Jim Teal and acted as an “absentee owner and financial backer” since Teal retired eight years ago. 

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“This place has been successful without a strong ownership and the only way that can happen is with great employees and great food. So I don’t want to come in and mess with too much. We might make some changes down the road but not immediately,” said AJ Bauer, who will now run the business with his brother Branden. 

Bauer, a University of Dayton graduate and Kettering native, was presented with the opportunity to buy the restaurant by his good friend Dan Phlipot, Don Phlipot’s son. Until now, Bauer had been selling restaurant equipment. 

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Smoked Hamburger at Smokin' BBQ on fifth Street with homemade chips and baked beans. Photo by Jim Witmer
Photo: Jim Witmer

Don Phlipot owned a few Dayton-area business ventures and when he died, the responsibility fell to his son. Smokin’ Bar-B-Que was the only restaurant Phlipot owned, and it was somewhat of his “pet project.” 

“He (Dan) said ‘I have a soft place in my heart for this because it was my Dad’s. ... The thing that he owned that was outside of the construction businesses and stuff, so I kind of get the impression that this was like a release for him (Don),’” Bauer said. 

Selling his father’s business to a close family friend is one way Phlipot hopes he can watch his Dad’s restaurant grow into something that his dad envisioned. 

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“Dan said ‘Hey I’m going to put the BBQ up for sale, and I think you’d be a good person to buy it,’” Bauer said. “And I thought ‘Yeah, yeah, sure whatever,’ not really thinking it was anything that would ever really happen. But I woke up the next day and couldn’t stop thinking about it and it ended up being like a week where that’s all I was thinking about. I started thinking, well what if this is something that we could make happen?”

Pork spare ribs at Smokin Bar-B-Que are slow smoked for 7 hours. It’s impossible to pick up because the bone slides right off the meat. (Staff photo by Connie Post)

The restaurant’s location is maybe one of the most recognizable in the city — sticking out into the intersection at the end of the Oregon District, across from The Neon Movie Theater. But Bauer said he is excited to embrace the fact that his restaurant is, in fact, not the end of the Oregon District. 

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“I love it here I think it’s a great location. It’s the entrance to the city — that’s the way that I think about it,” Bauer said. 

The pulled pork at Smokin Bar-B-Que is smoked for 14 hours, but can be scarfed down in a matter of minutes. (Staff photo by Connie Post)

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