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Iowa City welcomes new barbecue joint

BY SHAFIN KHAN | JULY 15, 2015 5:00 AM

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Burning hickory logs and barbecuing the old-fashioned way will bring authenticity to the Iowa City barbecue scene this weekend, two local entrepreneurs say.

A new barbecue establishment, Mosley’s, 525 S. Gilbert St., is shooting to have its opening day this upcoming weekend, said owners Sean Keller and Matthew Swift.

Mosley’s will be open from 11a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.

Keller, who has barbequed for 16 years, said this will be his first experience owning a restaurant.
“It was an organic process; we kicked around the idea of bringing barbeque to the community for a while,” he said. “The location was right, and it all came together between late last winter and early spring.”

Swift, however, is well-versed in the restaurant scene. In addition to Mosley’s, he also owns Reds Alehouse of North Liberty as well as Blackstone, 503 Westbury Drive No. 1, since 2007. Previously, Swift’s family owned Sluggers Bar and Grill.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business my whole life,” he said.

Swift said the bar atmosphere Mosely’s consumers will experience is the No. 1 difference from its competition, which includes the recently opened Pop’s Old ’N’ New Bar-B-Que, 130 N. Dubuque St.

“At most barbecue places, there isn’t a full bar experience, but we have a full bar experience, which sets us apart,” he said.

Keller said another factor that sets Mosley’s apart is the authenticity it provides in its style of barbecuing. It uses a hefty custom-made barbecue pit and burns hickory logs.

“Barbecuing is something I’ve devoted my life to, and we take it very seriously here,” Keller said.

When it comes to the food, Mosley’s focus is all about pork. Dishes Swift and Keller anticipate to be popular are pulled pork with vinegar sauce, pork ribs with house-made pork sausage, and bone-in pork butt that will be cooked for 12 hours before serving.

The pork Mosley’s serves is all local, from Heartland Fresh Family farm in Donnellson, Iowa. The hickory logs and vegetable produce will come from Kroul Farms, near Mount Vernon, Iowa.

“We really want this to be a place for the community to gather; we have long tables for large groups along with a large patio,” Keller said.  “We want it to feel like you’re sitting on your grandma’s patio.”

Keller and Swift ran into numerous obstacles on the road to making Mosley’s a reality but worked together to tackle different problems.

Keller said one of the issues they faced was creating the standards they wanted for the restaurant, such as quality of service and ambience compared with other food establishments in Iowa City.

“We don’t want to force anything,” Keller said. “It’s better for us long-term and our customers if we take our time to correctly set ourselves up for success.”

“We opened this barbecue place because I loved the location, and I thought it had a lot of potential,” Swift said. “We hung around here in college, and I’ve always liked the area.”


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