Brian Bailey is a man with a plan. Lots of plans, actually.
“I’ve been accused of having restaurant ADD,” he said brightly. “I eat at a lot of restaurants. I love food. I love to tell stories about a region through food.” His restaurant concepts have included Old Carolina Barbecue Co., Baja West Coast Kitchen, Smoke the Burger Joint and two new ones, Biscuit Uprising and StreetCraft Modern Mexican.
The president and CEO of Ichor Restaurant Group, Bailey started out as co-founder of Old Carolina Barbecue Co., whose first restaurant offering a Carolinas-inspired menu opened in Massillon in 2006. Today, Old Carolina has grown to 10 locations, three of them franchises, in Akron, Alliance, Jackson Township, Massillon, Orrville, Ontario (outside Mansfield), Rocky River, Stow, Strongsville and Altoona, Pennsylvania.
“When we first came to the area, (Old Carolina) was to fill the void for authentic barbecue. Back then, we had Damon’s and other restaurants offering baked ribs but not the true smoke process,” Bailey said. “Now there are a number in the market, and it is more competitive, but our business continues to grow. There are a lot of opportunities for barbecue outside of the restaurant with catering. It can be up to 50 percent of our business. In June, with the convergence of graduation parties, Father’s Day and weddings, we can hardly squeeze all the pork we need in those smokers.”
After Old Carolina came two more restaurant concepts, the California surf-themed Baja Pizza Fish (later renamed Baja West Coast Kitchen), whose Jackson Township location was sold by Ichor in March 2018, and Smoke the Burger Joint, with deluxe smoked hamburgers, with locations in Jackson Township and Massillon.
In February, Bailey launched StreetCraft Modern Mexican, which he describes as a “ghost restaurant because there’s no storefront.” Its quesadillas, tacos and other Mexican fare using smoked pork and brisket, are made in the Old Carolina kitchen in Jackson. Ordering is done online at EastStreetCraft.com, with delivery by various services (DoorDash, Grubhub, etc.). The delivery-only concept “is in response to today’s consumers, who want to enjoy their food at home,” Bailey said.
Wait, there’s more. In March, Bailey launched another new concept, Biscuit Uprising, in the former Smoke the Burger Joint location in Wooster. “It’s everything with scratch biscuits—biscuit sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, chicken and biscuits. It’s open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for breakfast, brunch and lunch, the whole menu the whole time. We do a sliced Angus steak and egg biscuit. A chicken biscuit with housemade pimento cheese and sliced pickles. A French toast biscuit with maple syrup and whipped cream. We’re really excited about this concept.”
Bailey hinted that a Biscuit Uprising could be headed for Stark County.