i.d.k. does know barbecue
When Kevin and Emily Clark were dating, he would ask where she wanted to go for dinner and she always replied, “I don’t know. Where do you want to go?”
Kevin would tease that he should open a restaurant called “I Don’t Know” so she couldn’t have that as an answer anymore.
Little did he realize that someday they would own i.d.k. Barbecue, with locations in Tropic, Huntsville and, most recently, in Ogden’s Five Points center at 179 N. Harrisville Road.
“It was a joke. We never thought we would open a restaurant, but it turned out to be a premonition,” Kevin Clark said.
When he opened the first i.d.k., Clark had no food industry experience. But he loved barbecue.
“I worked for a software company, and when they sent me out to different states, I would try the barbecue there. So when I lost my job, I thought, ‘This is the next thing.’ Computers are the same all the time, and it got really boring,” he said.
In 2015, the Clarks started with a food truck in Cannonville, near Kevin’s hometown of Tropic and Bryce Canyon National Park.
“We sold out every night, so we had to get a building in order to get the quantity up,” Kevin Clark said.
In 2018, they moved into a building in Tropic. Then in 2020, they started a second spot at 235 S. 7400 East in Huntsville, former location of Huntsville Barbecue. They opened the Ogden location this April.
Clark said he learned how to barbecue mainly from watching YouTube videos. Although some diehard barbecue masters insist on actual hardwood for smoking meats, the Clarks use pellet-based smokers.
Pellets are a compressed combination of hardwood shavings and sawdust. The Clarks use pellets that are a blend of maple, hickory and cherry woods.
“It’s a little sacrilege for some people, but we use pellets,” Kevin Clark said. “We call ourselves Utah’s take on barbecue, but we don’t know what that really means. We have Texas style, Georgia and North Carolina, also Hawaiian style, with a teriyaki sweet chicken.”
They have three main sauces. The base sauce is a typical red sauce, the spicy version gets a jalapeno kick and the smoky version has some liquid smoke.
“Nothing we do here is from a box, as far as the meats and sides,” Clark said. “We do just about everything we can from scratch.”
The top seller is brisket — moist beef slices edged with a pink-red smoke ring.
Nachos are a signature item: tortilla chips piled with nacho cheese, house-made baked beans and a choice of chicken, brisket or pork topped with sour cream and jalapenos.
The Ogden store’s favorite side dish, so far, is the potato salad — a recipe from Emily’s family.
“The Ogden store goes through as much potato salad as in Tropic, which has double the overall business,” Clark said. Military, police and firefighters have discovered the Ogden store’s 10% discount and are already becoming regulars.
The Ogden location has a down-home ambiance, with the picnic tables made from vintage pickup truck beds. The truck front grilles serve as the drink and sauce stations.
“I have a friend, Shane Frost, who is a master welder, and he outdid himself,” Clark said.
In Huntsville, white chili is a big seller. The Huntsville restaurant has a ski-town theme, with seating made from old ski lift benches.
He wishes more people would try the sandwiches, “because they are easily the most versatile and customizable and fun, because you can change them up.”
The top-selling “house” sandwich has brisket, jalapenos and nacho cheese on a pepper-parmesan bun. The Emily, another favorite, is chicken, cole slaw and nacho cheese on a regular bun.
“These are on our not-so-secret menu,” Clark explained. “You don’t see them on our menu board, but you can ask for them.”
The Clarks aren’t planning to open more locations at this point.
“We only expand when we are asked and have someone to run it,” he said. “We were approached about it, and we have Tyler Snyder and my brother, Brian Clark, to run it. We try to have a good environment so people enjoy working here. If we treat our employees right, they will treat our customers right.”
IF YOU GO
Location: 179 N. Harrisville Road, Ogden; 235 S. 7400 East, Huntsville; 161 N. Main St., Tropic
Price range: $8.99-$23.99
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.