Big Hass Barbecue brings new tastes to Merrill

Scott Hass is bringing a new taste to his hometown with the opening of Big Hass Barbecue. The restaurant is a new addition to DAT Bar, owned by Dennis and Traci Fick at 1404 W. Main St.

Scott grew up on a dairy farm in Merrill and developed a passion for cooking at an early age. His first restaurant job was as a dishwasher at a local truck stop. He worked his way up to grill cook and then was cooking on his own. He worked in many kitchens through the years. In 2003, he enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu to receive formal training and develop his skills.

In Minneapolis, Scott worked as a line cook for food service corporations. As an executive chef with the world’s largest food service corporation, Scott had the opportunity to be involved in feeding the cleanup crew on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Spending several months in the Deep South exposed Scott to some great barbecued cuisine and solidified his dream to open his own barbecue restaurant.

“I’ve been doing it on my own for the last 20 years,” Scott said, “developing my own sauces and rubs.”

Rather than return to Minneapolis, Scott was more interested in bringing his new business idea back to Merrill.

“I wanted to open my own place in my hometown,” he said. “Minneapolis is really saturated with barbecue places and I could create my own market in Merrill.”

His friends the Ficks were looking for exciting additions to DAT Bar and agreed that Big Hass Barbecue would be a great complement to their business. Scott moved back to Merrill in December 2010. After extensive remodeling, a kitchen was constructed and furnished, and the dining area was ready for customers.

The centerpiece of Scott’s kitchen is the giant smoker he affectionately refers to as “Sugar Mamma.” Scott uses a variety of woods in the smoker for flavoring.

A lifelong musician, Scott thinks of cooking as being similar to composing a symphony.

“When I see an ingredient, I try to think of 20 things I can do with it,” he said.

The Big Hass Barbecue menu features house smoked ham and pork belly dishes, pork shoulder, bacon steak, barbecue tacos, homemade sausages and a variety of unique items that cover breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Scott has hired a staff that includes a prep cook, a dishwasher and two waitresses.

Big Hass Barbecue started serving on April 15 and will hold its grand opening this weekend, in conjunction with DAT Bar’s one-year anniversary. The kitchen is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with breakfast served on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 -11 a.m.

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