Kirby Cosmo’s BBQ Bar open in Minturn
MINTURN – A lot of people enjoy barbecue – but it takes steely individual to make it.”(Mark) knows barbecue like most people don’t know it,” says Emily Tamberino, who owns and operates Kirby Cosmo’s BBQ Bar in Minturn along with her husband, Mark. “He can take an entire pig and butcher it. It takes a certain kind of stomach to do that.”No special stomach is required, however, to enjoy Kirby Cosmo’s wide array of South Carolina-style barbecue. Emily and Mark Tamberino purchased JB’s BBQ, which they helped run, and expanded into the space that once contained Mountain Pedaler. The venue now features a full bar, an expanded menu and a stage for live music. But at the core of Kirby Cosmo’s lies the brisket, St. Louis short ribs and other barbecue staples that have always inspired Mark, who grew up the son of a butcher in Baltimore.”I always loved this place called Andy Nelson’s in Baltimore,” Mark says. “We’re not trying to be like them, exactly, but it’s an inspiration.””I think we’re more unique,” says Emily.
Kirby Cosmo’s thrives on the partnership of Emily and Mark; he helps chart the course of the food, while she handles all the marketing, graphic design and strategic support. “It’s my husband’s dream,” she says. “He’s even the aesthetic guy. He can’t decorate the house, but he’s picked out great things to fit the visual design of the bar.”The Tamberinos also try to incorporate local influence into nearly every aspect of the restaurant, from the salad dressing (a locally made avocado vinaigrette) to the sculptures and art adorning the walls. Head chefs Grant Friese and Jorge Paz are “famous here in town,” and local contractors in Minturn and Red Cliff helped renovate the building between October and Kirby Cosmo’s opening day on New Year’s Eve.It’s the type of down-home joint that cultivates die-hard regulars: High-fives are exchanged over the bar with the local metalsmith who handmade the bathroom signs, which read “Spays” and “Neuters.” He got into the grad school of his choice, so celebrations are in order with the extended Kirby Cosmo’s family.While Kirby Cosmo’s is known for barbecue, they’re also getting famous for pizza – “we wanted to be the best in Minturn, but some people are saying it’s the best in the valley,” volunteers Emily – salads and cheesesteak sandwiches.”The wings are amazing,” says a local sitting at the bar, referring to the Three-Way Wings, which are first smoked, fried and then grilled. “Don’t forget the wings.”
When ski season ends, the Tamberinos will introduce their signature Blues Brunch on weekends, which includes live blues music, a brunch buffet and all-you-can-drink Bloody Marys and mimosas. Currently, the bar features Duff Hour, their unique take on Happy Hour. Fittingly, Homer Simpson will be on TV in the background, doing something hilariously stupid as free slices are brought out to the Tuesday “Duff Hour” crowd.Local bands like All Strung Out, Schwing Daddy and Nowhere Fast have all played the Kirby Cosmo’s stage, which Mark says is all about keeping his guests entertained. “There’s so many great local bands here,” Mark says. “We strive to have bands that fit our theme, like banjo-picking bands.”Improbably, Kirby Cosmo’s ends up being all things to all people: authentic barbecue joint for the foodies, welcoming kitchen for the family-dinner set and rollicking music bar for live music junkies. The mix comes off smoother than their trademark vinegary, South Carolina sauce, though it requires a tricky balance on the Tamberinos’ part.”It can be hard, making sure you have the right cups for kids but also making sure you have top-shelf liquor at the bar,” Emily says. “In the end, it’s truly a family business. My mom’s right over there, and my brother Chris (Deutschman) is the bartender.”But what about that name?
“We named it after our dog,” says Emily. “The dog is the center of our universe. He just begs for attention, he’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen and you can’t help but fall in love with him.”That sounds a lot like a certain barbecue joint we know…Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or email@example.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado