Red Coal BBQ Burns Hot at New Location

Eau Claire barbecue spot moves to Mall Drive

Abby Norton, photos by Andrea Paulseth

GOT THE WHOLE WIDE (BBQ) WORLD IN HIS HANDS. Red Coal BBQ has moved into a much larger space at 2839 Mall Drive (the former Taverna Grill building).
GOT THE WHOLE WIDE (BBQ) WORLD IN HIS HANDS. Red Coal BBQ has moved into a much larger space at 2839 Mall Drive (the former Taverna Grill building).

Red Coal BBQ is praised around the community for dishing up hot (and dangerously addictive) Midwest-inspired meats. Now, they’ll tempt even more customers at their new location. On Oct. 12, they relocated to 2839 Mall Drive, the former Taverna Grill, where they continue to cater to the hearts (and stomachs) of hungry locals. This summer, they acquired the space from the Palzkill family, which owns Draganetti’s Ristorante and Za 51.

Co-founders Brian Muskiewicz and Jon Ray originally opened Red Coal BBQ on July 4, 2017, on Brackett Avenue. “We had to get the doors open and it just fell on the Fourth of July,” Muskiewicz said. “I don’t think we could have picked a better day.” Neither man was a stranger to the industry; Each had spent 15 years cooking, serving, and managing at restaurants. Muskiewicz’s passion stemmed from childhood, when he spent time cooking with his mother and grandmother. Ray had studied at a few colleges in Wisconsin before he discovered his passion for the hospitality biz.

Thus, “Independence Day” took on a new meaning for the entrepreneurs, who turned nearly two decades of experience into their own venture. The barbecue joint is best known for its pork, chicken, and brisket, all of which are available à la carte or sandwich-style. Still hungry? Grab a side of mac and cheese, greens, or coleslaw, and polish it all off with a cornbread muffin or cookie. Particularly adventurous patrons can try the “Red Coal Special” menu, which features a BBQ baked potato or a mac  bowl. Take advantage of indoor seating and grab a beer or glass of wine to wash it down. Or, if you’re in charge of dinner for the kids, never fear: Ordering take-out is a breeze, as portions are also available family-style.

Worth noting is the fact that the new space is mere minutes away from Famous Dave’s. “A lot of people talk about it, how it’s kind of a bold move,” Muskiewicz said. “That’s just how it fell into place.” And it seems that the bold move has paid off, as business has been booming. “We’ve gotten great support from the community,” Muskiewicz said. “We’re continuing to do a lot of catering events. We have absolutely no complaints.”

That’s not to say Red Coal BBQ hasn’t faced its share of challenges. Ray passed away unexpectedly on Sept. 29. “It’s been a rough couple of weeks, to say the least,” Muskiewicz said of Ray’s passing. “We were working together 90 hours a week. He was my best friend, 50/50 business partner.” Muskiewicz wishes to honor Ray by working diligently to improve their shared dream. “We hope to continue to serve good food and be a part of the community.”

Find Red Coal BBQ online at