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Uptown Hog is on tap to become the newest vendor at Nixa’s 14 Mill Market.
SBJ File
Uptown Hog is on tap to become the newest vendor at Nixa’s 14 Mill Market.

Barbecue venture set for May launch at 14 Mill Market

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The exit of one food vendor later this month at 14 Mill Market soon will result in barbecue arriving at the Nixa food hall.

Uptown Hog LLC, which has operated since 2021 in food trailers, is aiming for a May 12 launch in Nixa, said owner Ricky Michel. It will mark the brick-and-mortar debut for Michel’s business, he said, adding he owns three trailers of varying sizes for Uptown Hog. The largest of the mobile eateries occupies a 48-foot semitruck trailer near Table Rock Dam in Branson at 5377 State Highway 165. The other trailers are primarily used for catering and special events.

“I had some friends talk to me about it and they said it was a pretty awesome place and gave me a call and told me to put an application in, so I did,” Michel said about his interest in becoming a 14 Mill Market vendor. “It’s as close as you can get to having your own restaurant without having your own restaurant.”

Uptown Hog is set to replace Abby’s Acai Co., which announced late last month it is exiting the food hall on April 26. Abai’s Acai Co. is returning to a food truck venture and plans to operate exclusively in the Rountree commercial area at Cherry Street and Pickwick Avenue, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

Michel declined to disclose startup costs or his one-year lease rate with 14 Mill owners Rich and Leah Callahan.

Leah Callahan said allowing Uptown Hog into the food hall had a caveat: No meats could be smoked inside. That was to keep the cooked meat smell from overwhelming the other nine on-site vendors.

“They actually installed a huge smoker down by our workshop, separate from the main building,” she said. “So, they’re not going to be smoking anything in the building. It’s working out perfectly, that they’re going to be doing the smoking down by the shop and then just selling a variety of meats with maybe two or three sides.”

Previously working in the banking industry for around 10 years, which included management experience with U.S. Bank branches in Forsyth, Marshfield and Springfield, Michel said he pivoted full time to cooking barbecue around three years ago. He got interested in barbecue after helping one of his bank client businesses, Fat Daddy’s BBQ in Forsyth, with competitions for several years, including the former annual Rock’n Ribs BBQ Festival.

“You feed everybody, everybody’s happy, and you just have a good time. That’s kind of how it feels like every day for me,” Michel said, adding his trailers are primarily open during the summer and that he focuses his business on catering for the rest of the year.

Michel plans to lead a staff of three at 14 Mill Market.

“Until it’s fully established and running and can operate independently, I’ll be there every day,” he said, adding the menu will offer smoked meats such as brisket, pulled pork and ribs, along with sides including smoked cream corn, barbecue beans and homemade mac and cheese.

Uptown Hog will become the fourth new vendor to open at 14 Mill Market this year. Other new additions to the food hall are London Calling Pasty Co., The Gochu Handcrafted Korean BBQ Bowl and Classics Pizza Co.

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