A lifelong interest in making good food has turned into a way to make a living for Garth and Joy Parish of Brimley, Mich.
The couple owns Flannigan’s Goat, which they describe as “a smoke-centric-based food experience,” featuring smoked meats and unique entrees.
“My interest in smoking food came from my dad,” Garth said. “He taught me how to smoke brisket and pork, and it’s something I really enjoy doing. I still frequently call him with questions about this or that.”
What started with smoked brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, served with several homemade sauces, has blossomed into a variety of unique presentations, such as the Hawaiian Pig, a generous serving of pulled pork, ham and pineapple on a bun, the Dougy 2 Fresh, Pastrami Reuben, Dragon’s Eggs, Korean Street Tacos, and more. Even the homemade shells-and-cheese, a family recipe that is a hearty version of macaroni-and-cheese, can be topped with smoked meat and sauce.
Flannigan’s Goat was created in 2016, when friends Ken and Wilda Hopper, owners of Bird’s Eye Outfitters, asked the Parishes to provide food for their booth at downtown Sault Ste. Marie’s annual Fall Festival. After that event, Flannigan’s moved into Bird’s Eye, providing popular homemade food, much of which is based on recipes handed down through the extended Parish family.
In 2019, the Parishes moved out of Bird’s Eye and Flannigan’s Goat went on the road with a food truck/trailer that features a Southern Pride smoker, 60 cu. ft. of refrigeration, a 21 cu. ft. commercial freezer, deep fryer, flat-top grill, and a six-burner stove.
The new unit can serve hungry customers year-round; in fact, Flannigan’s will be one of several vendors serving food and drink at this year’s International 500 snowmobile race on Feb. 5 in Sault Ste. Marie. For that event, the Parishes will be serving several of their usual dishes, along with some breakfast items, including their own take on green eggs and ham, which features eggs, ham, hash browns and salsa verde.
Serving food at special events such as the I-500 is what the Parishes had in mind when they had their food truck built.
“That was our original intent, to travel on weekends to festivals and special events,” Garth said, “but COVID shut down all of the festivals. We had to immediately go into business, learning how to operate the trailer in parking lots of local businesses.”
Since Flannigan’s wasn’t serving people indoors, it wasn’t shut down as many restaurants were during the height of the pandemic, but that didn’t make it much easier to make a living. A typical week has the Parishes cooking one day, preparing dishes the next, then cleaning and detailing the trailer before serving for three days and taking a short break before starting again.
In addition to serving food around town, the Parishes have been doing “a lot of catering” and some special events.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle,” Garth said. “We’re doing well, but it’s a lot of hard work.”
The hard work pays off with smiles from satisfied customers, and there are plenty of smiles behind the grill, too. Garth noted that his family likes to have fun with their work, and they enjoy serving people who are looking for fun at beer festivals and special events. All of their children have chipped in to help serve customers, along with nieces, nephews, friends, and even Garth’s father.
What awaits Flannigan’s Goat down the road? Garth hopes it is more of the special events he and Joy had their eyes on when they started their business.
“Post-COVID, we’re hoping more festivals and events open up and we can really work those, get on the road, do a little traveling to beer festivals in Marquette, Traverse City, and other places…We were at Biere de Mac Brew Works in Mackinaw City for a good part of last summer. That’s the kind of thing we like to do,” he said.
“In a perfect world, we’d park in front of a brewery for a weekend, or go to a festival, and provide food for the masses,” he added. “We’ll take it a step at a time and see what happens.”
To find out when you can grab a sandwich from Flannigan’s Goat, follow them on Instagram or Facebook, or give the crew a call at 231-944-8939.