Thursday, May 10, 2018

Blue Front BBQ: It’s more than just excellent BBQ, it’s a step back in time.

The Blue Front a little while back received another in a long line of glowing food reviews. . .

But did you know this structure at 1132 N. Dixie Hwy. in the City of Lake Worth is one of the few survivors of what’s called “roadside architecture”? It’s true. Read more about that below.

Most recently it was Laura Lordi, the food reviewer at the Post, who gave the Blue Front another rave review (at the end of this blog post). However, another BBQ restaurant, Mississippi Sweets, also was reviewed but that restaurant does not have a “Lake Worth location” as was falsely reported.

So just briefly, if someone comes up and asks you “Do you know where Mississippi Sweets is?”, that particular BBQ restaurant is way out west near Wellington in suburban Lake Worth. The Blue Front BBQ is located in the actual City of Lake Worth (next to the Academy for Positive Learning and across the street from our newest marijuana dispensary) and is open today; call 561-833-6651 for more information or use this link.

Now back to the Blue Front’s historic “roadside architecture”.

I stumbled upon a postcard of a roadside motel and restaurant in Perry, Florida. That city, which is situated in Florida’s Nature Coast about 50 miles south of Tallahassee, has a number of U.S. Routes, including U.S. 27, that meet and run through the city.

Before the dawn of Interstate highways and turnpikes, these roads were how people traveled long distances by automobile. Dixie Hwy. (U.S. 1) played the same role in the middle part of the 20th century. This created demand for lodging and restaurants along these routes and the “Mom & Pop” motel and dining era began here in Lake Worth.

Some of these structures used particularly eye-catching Mid-Century Modern architecture which became its own genre commonly referred to as highway or roadside architecture. The resulting building design usually ended up being a “sign” itself, designed to attract the attention of travelers along these roads.

Below is an example of just such a roadside motel/restaurant called the “Skylark” in Perry, Florida during its heyday, and a picture of how the same buildings look today.

The structure itself was part of the advertising:
The ‘motel’ presently with its signature arched sign.

What remains. You can still see the original sign
with its unique outline, sans the neon.

We once had many examples in the City of Lake Worth along U.S. 1. “Kristine’s”, now home to Blue Front BBQ, is a notable survivor. Here is a postcard of that building during the mid-1950s.

When you drive down Dixie Hwy. can you see the resemblance to the former Kristine’s?
This structure is one of the few survivors of restaurants and “highway architecture” to lure in and interest customers passing through our
City prior to I-95.

Below is an early edition of the former “Patio” restaurant that once occupied the southeast corner of Cornell Drive and North Dixie Hwy. It was later expanded, lost much of its character, and ultimately was demolished. The property is still a vacant lot today, across Dixie from the former “Park Avenue BBQ”, which is now a parking lot for World Thrift next door — the good news is they are doing a nice job of streetscaping and landscaping — not an eyesore like it once was.

The vacant lot where the Patio restaurant once stood remains an eyesore, and has been for many years.

The empty lot, once the “Patio”, is used mostly now for truck parking and an easy short-cut sometimes.
The former “Patio Coffee Shop, Lake Worth, Florida”. All these years later still a vacant lot and eyesore on Dixie Hwy.

For the most part, time has not been kind to these structures. Most have been either modified beyond recognition or demolished. There are areas of the country that still retain and promote their architecture along these former once-thriving and bustling highways. Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway are examples.

Along this stretch of Dixie Hwy. in this City many see the potential, also referred to as the ‘P’ word. Slowly but surely it’s changing for the better and a lot of people are noticing — especially the Millennials — but it’s never fast enough for Yours Truly though.

Am I thrilled our City has a thrift store located along one of our major gateways? I wasn’t a few years ago. But I am now. Because World Thrift is drawing crowds of people into our City. Every day. And many of those visitors are interested in learning more about this area.

Millennials, Hipsters, and Apatharchists love shopping at World Thrift! Use this link to learn why.

The operators of World Thrift* are taking pride in their community and doing everything they can to make improvements to this former bowling alley from “back in the day”. A once-vacant lot just to the south of the thrift store, where a decrepit BBQ joint once sat, is now more “vibrant” along our Dixie Hwy.

A parking lot isn’t my dream for that location. But it’s nice to see business owners take pride in their parking lot, adding streetscaping and new asphalt, to make it more appealing. And for that I’m grateful.

As promised, here’s an excerpt from Laura Lordi’s review of Blue Front BBQ:

Blue Front is not only known for its barbecue — the restaurant is famous for its signature barbecue sauce. From the baby back and St. Louis-style ribs to the pulled pork and smoked chicken, the ‘cue stands up to its reputation.
     Pit-smoked St. Louis-style ribs were the hit at our recent visit. They were big and juicy, with just the right amount of crisp . . . Noteworthy sides include the baked beans, which have a hint of cinnamon. The cornbread (¢99) is off the chain, super moist, with a just the right amount of sweetness. And the collard greens are a must-try.

*The famous World Thrift & Consignment Store is located at 2425 Dixie Hwy. in the little City of Lake Worth, open 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., MondayFriday.
     For more information call 561-588-4050 or use this link for their Facebook page. Remember, every Wednesday is “Senior Citizen Day!”