Adam, how long do you cook your ribs?
"‘Til they're done," he said with a grin.
Adam Brewer, 31, is the owner and founder of Adam's Rib Co., 2111 NW 13th St. It opened in fall 2005 and quickly became one of Gainesville's favorite restaurants. It serves southern comfort foods such as homemade barbecue, collard greens, peach cobbler and biscuits and gravy.
Brewer was born and raised in Gainesville. He started cooking about 15 years ago. By the time he was 18, he was a cook at multiple restaurants.
He first started cooking barbecue in 2004. The first item Brewer perfected was the ribs.
"I got ribs on the sign out there; it better be good," he joked.
The first thing you smell when you walk through the doors is smoked, barbecued pork.
Every week, Adam's Rib Co. has meat delivered from Florida Food Service. Next, cooks put a secret dry-rub recipe on it. Then they smoke it with a combination of several kinds of woods, including pecan, black jack and red oak, to infuse the meat with flavor.
Brewer's ribs are different because he slow-cooks his barbecue longer. The trick for moist, tender ribs is not letting all the smoke out.
"The moisture's in the smoke," he said. "It's a process, but it's definitely worth doing."
Brewer believes he offers the complete package with his menu because no item is the best. They all complement each other, he said.
"I've kind of developed this as the hometown barbecue headquarters," he said. "This is the place where people want to go and eat barbecue."
His favorite meal is one he created to meet the needs of his appetite in his mid-20s: Adam's Delight. It comes with six ribs, two sides, garlic bread and banana pudding for dessert.
Brewer thought for many years people had not been cooking ribs the right way.
"I remember growing up and eating ribs that didn't come off the bone," he said. "We came up with this barbecue rib recipe, and we were like, ‘Man, this is puttin' the ribs back in barbecue.'"
Adam chose the location of the restaurant because it was a landmark to people. It used to be a doughnut shop for about 35 years.
"Everybody and their brother knew about it," he explained.
Adam's Rib Co. tries to buy only from local businesses to keep the economy within the community.
"I'm from here," he said. "I'm raising my children here. It's just easy for me [to be] plugged into this town."
Along the restaurant's walls are plaques that say, "Thank you for your donation."
"Anytime I can try to help, I always do," he said, talking to a customer who was thanking Adam for making another contribution.
Because Adam's Rib Co. has had a bigger presence in Gainesville over the past six years, other companies have followed and begun helping within the community.
The restaurant also tries not to waste any food, but if there is a large amount of leftovers, it is normally donated to a nonprofit organization.
The restaurant's customers are diverse. Students and locals alike have become regulars. Some customers have driven hours just to eat at Adam's Rib Co., Brewer recalled.
"I always wanted to be a destination," he said proudly. "This is a destination. Once you become a destination, it's a whole different ball game."
Brewer recently bought a new property for a second location off Southwest 13th Street for expansion. The new, bigger restaurant will open in late April or early May, he said. Although he's expanding and thinking of opening a third property, he doesn't want to get bigger than that.
His restaurants will always stay in Gainesville, and they will never become a franchise, he assured.
Brewer would like to pass the business down through his family. He has two sons, a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old. His older son loves to help out by bringing food to customers and buttering bread for toast. It's a family here, Brewer said.
Owning the restaurant has given him an opportunity to develop strong relationships with his customers. Some students will stop by before they move, hug the staff and tell them how they're going to miss them, he said.
"The relationships we develop here — it's more than just food."