Can you ever have too many BBQ joints? AZ Barbecue Co. to open in Gilbert this fall

BY Jess Harter Friday, June 23, 2017

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Is Gilbert on its way to becoming the barbecue capitol of the East Valley?

Earlier this week I broke the news longtime Mesa fave Waldo’s BBQ is making a second attempt at opening a location in Gilbert.

Now comes word of another smokehouse opening in the town this fall: Arizona BBQ Company is taking over the former La Calabria strip-mall space on the northwest corner of Val Vista and Ray.

(Side note: La Calabria, in turn, has found a new space and is reopening in a couple of months.)

AZ BBQ Company is owned by longtime Gilbert residents Mark and Colette Nichols (pictured at top). He is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef with 27 years of experience in the hospitality industry.

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For the past five years, the couple have run JC’s Catering out of a church kitchen, and they’re looking forward to having a commercial kitchen of their own.

Mark Nicholls describes his BBQ as a spinoff of Texas-style, ‘‘but we do BBQ a little different.’’ As an example, he points to six planned sauces: sweet, tangy, chipotle, habanero, red chile, and green chile.

The featured meats will be brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis-style ribs, and smoked chicken. There also will be four kinds of BBQ tacos and two kinds of brisket chili.

Side will include ranchero beans, chipotle potato salad, green chile and bacon mac and cheese, Southwest cole slaw, and chile lime roasted corn.

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A liquor license should be approved by the expected opening soon after Labor Day.

Nichols says he was unaware Waldo’s had selected a spot just a mile away, but he’s not concerned about competition.

‘‘We’re a little unique,’’ he says. ‘‘And there are a lot of people in Gilbert.‘’

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