Fiery Duo

Mansmith’s BBQ and Aroma Wine Cellars team up in Hollister

PERFECT PAIR Armed with great meats and wines, Mansmith’s BBQ and Aroma Wine Cellars pair up on San Benito Street in Hollister. Photo: Robert Eliason

Sitting across from Hollister natives Mike Mansmith and David Adammo is like experiencing the phenomena of yin and yang firsthand.

Mansmith’s reserved nature (seemingly more comfortable behind his Mansmith’s BBQ grill) contradicts Adammo’s personable demeanor—often found in his Aroma Wine Cellars tasting room. Each of their attributes counterbalances the other’s beautifully. And each of their strengths are huge assets.

So it’s a wonder why these complementary businessmen haven’t formed a dynamic team yet.

Well, it’s been a wonder—until now.

One tip-off Hollister locals may have gotten about their partnership was possibly from the new aroma being emitted from Aroma Wine Cellars over the past three weeks.

“I really want to spread the word that we have [Mansmith’s BBQ] here now,” Adammo announces.

With a menu now featuring Mansmith’s BBQ, fans of the local barbeque business now can chow down on their favorite grilled meats five days a week.

“We’re still doing our Friday night thing and we’ll still doing the Farmers Market just like we always did,” assures Mansmith. “But this gives people another option to not have to take it to-go.”

But a change in food isn’t the only transformation in the establishment.

Adammo says his former wine bar/restaurant, Aroma Wine Cellars, is now officially Mansmith’s BBQ. The Mansmith’s BBQ sign will be physically taking over the Aroma Wine Cellars sign while this is in print. The restaurant will continue to serve wine from local wineries and beer from local brewery, Brewery Twenty Five.

“We’re doing a co-op,” Adammo explains. “But it is Mansmith’s BBQ here. My role in the restaurant will have nothing to do with the food. I’m a winemaker, so my role will be to continue running the wine tasting and supplying wine; handling that portion.”

Adammo says though he’s enjoyed having Italian food at the location, he noticed customers have been looking for more.

“The thing that I already know is that we are definitely in a barbeque town and nobody gets tired of eating barbeque food,” Adammo says.

When Adammo brought the idea of teaming up to Mansmith, the opportunity seemed ideal. “David has taken on the majority of the risks as far as the overhead and so forth; all I’m really doing is providing the food. So it’s a pretty easy decision to give people the opportunity to have it five nights a week—where they can come in and sit down,” Mansith says.

With a change in a business license (beginning in March, minors will be allowed on the premises), the transition is obviously in the works. Adammo says the evolution has been a great move “because of the history and everything that goes along with Mansmith’s BBQ.”

The catering company found its beginnings in the late 1980s when Mansmith’s parents, John and Juanita Mansmith, began making grilling seasonings. Later, to promote their seasonings, Mansmith started cooking at Hollister’s Farmers Market, then on Friday evenings, in 1990. He was still a high school student at San Benito High School at the time.

“I would go to school, leave the high school main parking lot, drive back to the football stadium and get the football booster’s barbeque pit, then drag it downtown and started cooking on it,” Mansmith recalls. “Because we didn’t have barbeque pits or anything.”

Mansmith’s BBQ ultimately developed a following, and during the Farmers Market off-season a Friday evening barbeque pick-up location was set-up on Cushman Street (in the parking lot of the current Hollister Athletic Club). “From there it developed into festivals and caterings,” Mansmith says.

The Friday barbeque pick-up location is now located at the Bertuccio’s Lot at 2410 Airline Highway from noon-7pm. They also continue to barbeque at the Hollister’s Farmers Market during the summer months.

With 30-plus years of success, though, Mansmith says there’s never been a place where people could go and sit down to enjoy their food.

“We’d get asked quite often if we’re going to open up a restaurant, which we’ve never really wanted to take that step to do that,” he says. “There’s a lot of benefits in operating the way we are, as far as overhead and making your own schedule.”

So why take that step now? Now married with four children, Mansmith says he’d like to slow down on some of the catering.

“I don’t want to be going as hard as I was on the out of town stuff,” Mansmith says. “I’d rather stick local. So when the opportunity presented itself, I figured I’d go this route.”

The new Mansmith’s BBQ restaurant will still feature all of the dishes it’s known for—customers can enjoy tri-tip, chicken or rib plates complete with beans, potato salad and garlic bread. There is also a combination plate option, with all three meats. Pricing for the meat plates run from $15.95 to $18.95.

“The responses I’ve been getting is that people love it,” Adammo says. “They’re truly blown away with the portions and the prices. The quality has always been there, and now they’re getting the same food and able to come in and sit down and eat it.”

The menu has even added a Mediterranean salad with tri-tip; a Caesar salad with chicken; and a loaded nacho dish with chunks of tri-tip or chicken on top. Adammo says a key point in their business is that Mansmith prepares the food daily for the restaurant.

“It’s not like he’s bringing in food and we’re reheating it.”

Hollister resident and business owner, Anne Hall, has enjoyed the new chicken Caesar salad, and is excited about the business merger.

“I’m happy to see a thriving evening business downtown,” she says. “It’s good to have options downtown—it creates synergy.”

Mansmith’s daughter, Bonnie—a senior at San Benito High School—and part of the restaurant staff, shares Hall’s sentiments. “It’s a really cool opportunity for us to be involved with another business,” she says.

And though Adammo envisions Mansmith’s BBQ restaurant to become a chain, Mansmith would like to take it one step at a time.

“My concern with chains is getting it cooked right,” Mansmith says. “There’s only one of me. I’ve got some really good employees, but at the same time I want to make sure everything goes right and is cooked right. The reputation has grown over the past 30 years; it can be ruined really quickly.”

But an unlikely possibility in the realm of yin and yang.

Mansmith’s BBQ is located at 650 San Benito Street in Hollister. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 5pm to 10pm. For more information call 831.313.1717.

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