The first thing that I notice when I enter OiNK’s, the new BBQ spot on East Colfax in
Park Hill early one morning is that there is a baby in a baby seat on the counter. A man behind that counter is stirring something in a huge silver pot on the stove and it smells good! In the corner, at a four top, a voluptuous young woman in a grey T-shirt with a baby blanket draped over her shoulder is talking to a delivery guy. The restaurant space is clean and new looking, bright morning light shining in through the large windows to the east. Even though it’s in a mall it feels comfortable.
When the delivery person leaves, I am introduced to Bobbi Capps, who with her husband
Mason runs and owns OiNK’s BBQ. By now the baby in the seat is comfortably sitting at the table and is quietly watching our conversation unfold while mom rocks him gently to and fro. She is relaxed and friendly even though I can guess that she has a thousand things she needs to attend to before the lunch crowd comes through in a couple of hours.
One of the reasons I am here is to pick up a donation in the form of a check for Feed
Denver: Urban Farms & Markets. The check is the result of a fundraising event sponsored by OiNK’s for its opening debut in May. Mason and Bobbi tell me that they are committed to contributing to their community. They do this by supporting the burgeoning sustainable sector in Denver. This means that each month they choose to support an organization like Feed Denver, that engages in ‘green’ development or
promotes local sustainability in some form. Being social media savvy, they use
Facebook & Twitter to advertise their specials, including free or discounted rewards to those who bring in their own coffee mugs, bus passes, bikes or plastic bags. Devotee’s also come out to eat at OiNK’s on fundraising days like the one they had for Feed Denver. This way a relationship is created between OiNK’s and those customers who care about the same things the owners do. Everyone gets to support their favorite local charity groups or non-profit organizations that are specifically dedicated to bettering the environment. It’s a win-win situation which is how Bobbi and crew like it.
The couple are eager to let me know that in planning their restaurant, when it was still a dream a few years ago, they agreed on the importance of supporting the local economy by keeping the food not only affordable but also healthy. I ask her what that exactly means. For one, Bobbi tells me that they use only antibiotic free meats. They get chicken, sausage and pork locally. Ideally OiNK’s would get all their meat locally but, citing cost and availability, beef is not local, yet. Mason says that it will remain a goal set for the future. He mentions that customer demand and a sustainable local support system needs to be in place before this can be realized. Hopefully, he says, ‘we will get there’. Meanwhile, their efforts toward prooving their commitment to bettering their community through sustainable, local practices is evident. They use Continental Sausage, a local company renowned for their high quality meats. OiNK’s also buys their wood locally and uses 100% recycled paper products. The restaurant uses compostable products avoiding plastics that are not biodegradable. They even recycle their cooking oil through a local company that uses it to create biofuel.
The Capps believe their success is related to their vision of creating relationships within the community and working towards a better, healthier world while creating some really kickin’ BBQ. I think they might be onto something. Throughout our freestyle mini interview, the baby has been cooing, cradled in mom’s arms. Bobbi’s husband Mason has checked in a couple of times to offer some insights about the restaurant and the small staff has been steadily gearing up for lunch. It’s all very natural feeling and inviting. The room smells fantastic and I’m hungry way too early. The famous OiNK’s cupcakes, made by Bobbi who also bakes creative cakes and makes flower arrangements by request, sit on the counter under a glass display, tempting me. As I pass the cash register, I order a couple of cupcakes to go… creamy sweet butter frosting and bacon bits sounds quirky but good.
One more thing before I leave: I ask Bobbi about the adorable T shirt she is wearing – it’s made from what’s called ‘Transitional Cotton’, which helps reward farmers who are making the switch from traditional cotton to organic, a time frame that is costly and often hard for the producer. That’s the way it is at OiNK’s, consistently supporting real causes.
The next time you head to Oinks with a craving for good and real food, you know you are also contributing to a better world. Good food made by real people. Something to look forward to. This interview was conducted and written by our own Silvana Hoitt, New American program director and Coffee reader extraordinaire...