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The Local Exchange: Duluth BBQ restaurant overcomes odds to open during pandemic

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The Local Exchange: Howard's Que BBQ
The Local Exchange: Howard's Que BBQ
The Local Exchange: Howard's Que BBQ
The Local Exchange: Howard's Que BBQ
The Local Exchange: Howard's Que BBQ

DULUTH, MN -- Every kitchen has a story of how its people and ingredients came to be, and Howard's Que BBQ is quite the tale.

If it weren't for the pandemic, this BBQ restaurant in Duluth wouldn't exist.

"Well this is one of the things I've always wanted to do, and they gave me the opportunity to even try it," Owner Howard Ross said. "Once that opportunity came, now I'm not looking back."

Ross was a sous chef at the DECC for almost a decade.

That is until he, along with many others, were permanently furloughed at the onset of COVID-19.

"Yeah, that was kind of a bummer, but we made lemonade out of lemons," Ross said. "Everything is going okay. We're growing slow, but we're progressing."

And turning lemons into lemonade they did.

Joined by other former-DECC employees, Ross began cooking up a storm.

First, as a pop-up restaurant.

Now, Ross is renting a space in Lincoln Park.

A supportive community and a supportive family who lend a helping hand.

Everything on this menu is made possible because of the hours of work that goes into the kitchen before it can be served, like preparing French Fries and the potato salad.

When the food is prepped, the cars get loaded up.

Howard's Que caters festivals, weddings, and even events at the DECC, with Ross' ultimate goal of getting his own place.

"Right now I'm doing what I can do with what I've got and I'm trying to get there," he said.

That's how Howard's Que came to be: taking what life gives as an opportunity and making lemons into lemonade.

Right now, Howard's Que is located near 19th Avenue West and West Michigan Street in Duluth.

They are open for dine-in and takeout.

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Kendall Jarboe

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