When he grilled for his family at 12 years old Gene Hobel discovered a passion for barbecue.
Now, through his new restaurant, Blake’s Place, Hobel is sharing that passion with Los Alamitos.
The restaurant -- which has been open for a number of weeks -- held its official ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday at 11105 Los Alamitos Boulevard.
Named after Hobel's 17-year old son Blake, the eatery is one of two in Orange County that Hobel runs -- the other in Anaheim – and features pit-smoked Texas barbecue with a southern California twist.
“The barbecue sauce, dry rub and basting sauce are my original recipes,” said Hobel, who attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
Hobel says that during the first few weeks of opening in Los Alamitos, he and his business partner Mike Rhodes worked tirelessly, holding 80-hour work weeks to ensure the restaurant’s perfection.
And, after a month, Blake’s Place had already acquired repeat customers.
“One of the things that amazed me, was we have a lot of misplaced Texans who travel several miles for our barbecue,” Hobel said.
The Blake's Place specialties? Brisket and a large pulled-pork sandwich known as “The Beast.”
Hobel’s son Blake works part-time at the Anaheim location while tackling high school and lacrosse, and during long work weeks, Hobel says he still finds time to coach his son’s lacrosse team.
Though running two restaurants can be taxing, Hobel says he manages to balance work and family life.
“Whether your family works for you or not, they’re involved (in your business),” Rhodes said. “My wife did most of the design for the new location. Everyone plays a role.”
“My family supports me and I enjoy what I do," Hobel said.
Of course, family is key, but a business can't run without patrons.
Fortunately, Blake's Place in Los Alamitos has got those too.
“I love my job, my employees and my customers," Hobel said. “Our customers make us who we are."