Grill and smoker party to include bonfire and lawn seating by Bear Creek
By BETH ALTENA
“People call this Pleasantville because everything you need is here,” said Don Kurlyowicz, King of Cannonsburg and owner of the Gristmill, the Honey Creek Inn and the Bottle Shop in downtown Cannonsburg. Kurlyowicz plans to prove how much his establishments offer with an outdoor event Wednesday, June 26 from 4 to 8 p.m. while supplies last.
An all-you-can-eat buffet will be offered for sale featuring grilled and smoked meats with dining by a cozy bonfire alongside Bear Creek in a grassy area below the historic mill. Kurylowicz is making the event a party of outdoor cooking with Pete Kruer of Ace Hardware bringing in a variety of grills for grilling demos and small sampling.
“I have my own park,” Kurylowicz said of the sunny area on his property. Under construction is a walkway and stairs that will take people from the grilling area at the Gristmill down to behind the mill building. Kurylowicz is proud of this common space where students from the Parnell School have a community garden and the view of the moose Ralph lets you know you are at the right spot.
The outdoor party is being held as a prelude to Fourth of July festivities and the Great Steak Sale where pre-orders for holiday feasts are encouraged. “Everything we do here is handmade, but we have to know how much to make,” Kurylowicz explained. He said his Kurly’s House of Smoke smoker, an investment of a year ago, is capable of cooking up 400 pounds of pork for pulled pork BBQ, but pre-ordering is so helpful to make sure his cooks and smoker expert Gordie Aulbach, have enough for every holiday customer.
“We are having a one-day sale. You order it, then when you are ready to go on vacation for the Fourth, you come on by and pick it up,” he stated.
The smoker was new a year ago, purchased after considerable research, and can slow cook a huge amount of meat to mouthwatering perfection and falling off the bone doneness. It has been a big success.
“We have had people come here from the old smoking states, Texas and South Carolina, and tell us, ‘You nailed it. This is as good as there is, if not better,’ “ bragged Aulbach. “We knew this would catch on but we had no idea how fast and how much.”
The addition of the grill also came when Kurylowicz decided to build a pleasant outdoor seating area between the grill and the back door of the Gristmill. The addition of seating brought in a new group of customers that surprised Kurylowicz.
“I had people tell me they had no idea the deli and meat market was in there,” he said. “I’ve had the deli, butchers and hand-cut meat since 1998—a full butcher shop and bakery.” He was astounded to discover customers who have been regulars at the gas pumps for years didn’t realize what was for sale inside the building.
“The quality of people Don has working here is impressive,” said Aulbach. He said the staff include talented bakers and butcher and chefs who create the side salads and specialty items in the shop, including Greek pasta salad, deviled egg potato salad, Kurylowicz’s grandmother’s Busia Bread, banana bread and zucchini bread.
Don said he likes to work with, not compete with, other businesses and this event is a good example of something that will be a win-win for those who eat and those who are there to entertain. He planned it for mid-week because he knows how booked up people’s summer weekends already are. He said he and Pete Kruer will be fun to see working the grills, “like Abbot and Costello.”
Kurylowicz is constantly coming up with new things to do and reasons to celebrate. He recently implemented an annual duathlon to encourage health and exercise. He will add to that venue a mini beer tasting event in cooperation with four local breweries offering several micro beers each. Every other year he offers a community celebration and invites one and all to enjoy old fashioned fun and activities to get residents off the electronic grind for a few fun hours.
A trip to Ireland coming this fall is a nod to his own Polish heritage and to the community with lots of Polish pride. Over 200 people signed up for the trip with another couple of dozen on a waiting list. “The whole village is going. We are going to have a community event in Ireland.” He said he knew the trip would be something people would jump on. “I came up with the idea of taking over a whole plane for this. I had the idea and then had to see if it would fly.”
Not content just to author something as amazing as inviting the entire village on a vacation to Ireland, Kurylowicz is also masterminding a plan to establish a sister school in Ireland to partner with the local elementary and have Ralph as the ambassador. He envisions Skype exchanges so the kids can talk together in real time. Later the sister community will have a Skype session from the bar, although he hasn’t quite worked out the logistics.
“I come up with all these stories in my head and then I figure out a way to make them happen,” he joked about his frequent crazy ideas that turn out to be not only doable, but wildly successful.
An example is the coup de gras for the Ireland trip—getting Ralph the Moose over to Ireland along with all the villagers from Cannonsburg. “I’m not paying his way. Ralph has to find his own means to get there.”
“It’s my thirtieth year with the village. We are going to have fun with it.”