After five and a half years in the business, Mike Strauss knew the temperature was just right to start a new chapter in his life.
The owner of Mike’s BBQ at 1703 S. 11th St. found instant success with his East Passyunk storefront in 2018, quickly becoming one of the most popular BBQ destinations in the city. Strauss announced he is selling Mike’s BBQ to pitmaster Daniel Grobman, 24, who will take over as the restaurant’s owner/pitmaster in early July. The restaurant’s name and menu will remain the same for the foreseeable future.
“I wasn’t planning on selling, but a real estate agent with a client interested in a BBQ spot contacted me out of the blue,” said Strauss. “One thing led to another, and Danny came in to chat with me. From the moment I met him, I loved his energy and work ethic, his devotion to the craft and his insistence on serving the finest BBQ possible. He is committed to retaining the entire staff while staying active in the community, which was very important to us. I will hang around until Labor Day weekend to show Danny how this place operates and to introduce him to our clientele. He’s a great pitmaster on his own, however, I am happy to stay involved to provide him with all the tools necessary so that he can be as successful as possible.”
Strauss is still a partner at Sidecar Bar & Grill in South Philly’s Graduate Hospital neighborhood but will head to the Philippines in the fall with his wife Eylonah who is a native of the Southeast Asian country. They will determine their future at that point.
“While I may stay in Philly, there’s a significant chance of relocating,” said Strauss. “We accomplished so much together over the past several years, and we’ve made so many friends here, but it’s time to pass the torch to a younger, inspired entrepreneur who can continue the mission we set out on, which is serving some of the best BBQ possible while treating employees fairly and helping the community every chance we can. It’s a very emotional moment for my wife and I, but we are so excited to see Mike’s BBQ continue forward.”
Grobman burst onto the scene by purchasing a smoker and loading it into the back of his Honda Civic and traveling to various competitions in the south hosted by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. He first got into smoking meat at the age of 14 after receiving a small electric pellet Traeger smoker as a gift.
In high school, Grobman worked at Deke’s Bar-B-Que as a prep cook and spent a summer working as a pitmaster at Bridgeport Rib House. At Drexel University, he studied Entrepreneurship and wrestled for the Dragons while also working at Fette Sau.
During the pandemic, he launched his own business called Danny D’s BBQ, where he cooked out of his backyard on multiple stick burners for friends and people in his neighborhood.
“I always knew my goal was to own a restaurant,” said Grobman. “I’m not afraid of hard work, and I’m anxious to add many of my original recipes to Mike’s BBQ’s already fantastic menu. Mike Strauss is such a great guy, he’s so talented and has built an incredible business, and I’m ready to get in there and continue his mission. I hope to retain the entire staff and continue to serve some of the best BBQ possible. This is a really exciting time for me, especially because smoking meat is a huge passion of mine, and this position is going to allow me to continue to perfect my craft while learning from one of the best.”
Grobman will add a few of his specialties to the menu, including a brisket sandwich called “The Fat Cook,” which includes point brisket, his special “Rob’s Beans” and coleslaw.
As for Strauss, there’s a chance he could still be a prominent figure in Philly’s food scene. And if he doesn’t, perhaps he’ll still be seen on the other side of the counter as a patron.
“There is no better food destination to me than Philly,” Strauss said. “I’ve had some of the best meals of my life and made some lifelong friends here. I truly love the community. We’ve helped raise money for so many charities and happily given away food to so many and we’ll continue to keep doing so for as long as possible.”