Elm Street BBQ truck is a hit

MILFORD – Phil Bouchard learned to make barbecued meats in his backyard and he and his wife served them at "guinea-pig parties" to family and friends.

Over 15 years at home, Bouchard had been working on his skills, developing a spice rub for ribs and adjusting the temperature and cooking time to achieve consistent quality.

And after the recession took his job those skills helped him keep afloat financially.

Downsized from a sales position, Bouchard, who is now 60, was in danger of losing his home. But people who loved his cooking encouraged him to sell his barbecue.

So with the help of the Merrimack Valley SCORE, a business mentoring organization, he developed a business plan, and in 2009 he received New Hampshire’s first loan under the Small Business Association’s Patriot Loan program, which provided small business assistance to veterans as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The money bought a 30-foot long trailer made by Southern Yankee Barbecue in Indiana that has a 12-shelf wood-fired rotisserie smoker, a four-foot charcoal grill and a 15-foot kitchen. Several feet away is his cold-storage trailer.

Now Phil and his wife, Kristin, have been making and selling barbecue out of a truck near the town’s old police station for five years, serving roughly 40 to 60 customers a day, mostly for lunch.

The menu includes spare ribs, pulled pork, sliced brisket, sausage and chicken, with side choices that include baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad and cornbread.

The truck is parked 25 miles from the Bouchards’ Deering home, on rented Milford-owned property across from Hitchiner Manufacturing.

It wound up here after several detours. Phil tried the fair circuit but that didn’t work out and neither did attempts to settle in Goffstown and Hillsborough.

"Everyone loves barbecue, but not in my backyard," he says. "Milford has been great to work with. I appreciate the opportunity to make a living … It’s taken time, but I think we’re going to make it."

The couple have no employees, and "it’s getting to be too much for the two of us," Kristin said. Phil works about 75 hours a week, from when the truck opens in April until it closes in October, with a day that begins at 7:15 a.m. when he starts the fire and puts on brisket to smoke.

Each year business has gotten better, thanks to word of mouth and good press, including an excellent review on a barbecue website called PigTrip. net, which called Phil’s ribs the best in the area and his brisket "nothing short of spectacular."

Phil’s Old Fashion Barbecue, at 589 Elm St. in Milford, is open 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. No credit cards. cash only. There are a few picnic tables on the lawn near the food truck, one under a tent.