Overlooking the Ohio River at Marina Pointe, the smell of barbecue permeates through the air. Visitors who recently finished touring the LST-325 stop walking to register the smell, and as if pulled by the aroma, begin heading in the direction of Longfellow BBQ & BARR.
The barbecue restaurant, located next to the LST-325 at 830 LST Drive, opened in early August, and has been a longtime dream for owner Robert Morphew, an Evansville native who attended Bosse High School and Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky.
“As a little kid, I always wanted to open a restaurant,” says Morphew as he looks out at the LST while sitting on a picnic table on the patio outside of Longfellow BBQ & BARR. The latter part of the company’s name pays tribute to co-owner Gary Barr and the full-service bar inside. “I always had the idea in my head this is what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know it. I never studied culinary arts when I was in school, but yet, I always cooked.”
While Morphew worked in the telecommunications industry, he also began experimenting with his own line of products. He started by creating a barbecue sauce modeled after a thin vinegar “rib dip” his mentor Ed Husk, who owned Bedford Tavern and Uncle Round’s Barbecue in Evansville, used in the early 2000s. As he continued to learn more through cooking for family and friends, Morphew created new recipes and products with the hopes of opening a restaurant.
In 2014, Morphew took a step closer to his dream when he began bottling the sauce for sales under the name Sir Dax Longfellow Barbecue Company, inspired by his rescue dog Dax, at Bardstown Food Manufacturer in Bardstown, Kentucky. Old Fashioned Butcher Shoppe began selling his original sauce in April 2014.
Since then, Morphew’s dream has evolved into Longfellow BBQ & BARR, which offers pulled pork, brisket, chicken, ribs, sausage, black bean burgers, and three sauces including the Original Sauce (thin vinegar based), Thick’N’Sticky, (thick, sweet tomato sauce), and Carolina Mustard (thin, mustard based). The sauce can be found in several local retailers including Schnucks, Drone’s Convenience Store, Fountain View Mini Mart, and Bassemier’s.
“The only way to have great barbecue is if you cook it every single day, so we cook every morning at 3 a.m.,” says Morphew, who uses only wood to cook on a smoker outside. “Most commercial places only cook a couple times a week, so it isn’t as fresh.”
Longfellow also is unique that it doesn’t sauce its product after cooking.
“A lot of people use vinegar sauce to finish their product, but I do it on the smoker to tenderize it,” he says. “You don’t need my sauce, even though my sauce is the best on the market. You don’t need sauce on a true great steak and it’s the same with barbecue.”
In addition to producing delicious barbecue, Morphew says he is committed to giving back to the community. Longfellow donates 10 percent of its sauce sales to Solider Dogs for Independence, a nonprofit organization that helps local veterans who live with physical or mental injuries with the assistance of trained canines.
“Philanthropy is huge to us,” he says.
For more information about Longfellow BBQ & BARR, call 812-467-0080 or visit facebook.com/bbqisgood.