Mr. BBQ and Slim’s on the menu in Brooklyn Center

Two vacant buildings in Brooklyn Center are back in business with the recent opening of Mr. BBQ & Voodoo Lounge and Slim’s scheduled to open in November.

Each building has been vacant during the past few years. Mohamed Shambolia purchased the former Mango Tango and Chi-Chi’s about two years ago to transform it into Mr. BBQ, he said.

It is located at 2101 Freeway Blvd., off Shingle Creek Parkway.

Shambolia operates a Mr. BBQ in Columbia Heights. Slim’s is also an expansion of an existing restaurant.

Owner Omar Abuisnaineh started Slim’s, which features pizza, sandwiches and wings, in New Hope more than a year ago and is remodeling a former Starbucks at 69th Avenue and Brooklyn Boulevard to grow his business.

Mr. BBQ in Brooklyn Center

Ted Wilebski, a consultant with Mr. BBQ & Voodoo Lounge owner Mohamed Shambolia, walks through the restaurant’s main bar and dining room adjacent to the dance floor. The interior is decorated with hand-painted murals on the ceiling. (Photo by Katy Zillmer – Sun Newspapers)
Ted Wilebski, a consultant with Mr. BBQ & Voodoo Lounge owner Mohamed Shambolia, walks through the restaurant’s main bar and dining room adjacent to the dance floor. The interior is decorated with hand-painted murals on the ceiling. (Photo by Katy Zillmer – Sun Newspapers)

The bright yellow building on Freeway Boulevard and Shingle Creek Parkway, empty for at least two years, is hard to miss while driving by.

But if commuters look closely now, the sign below the large neon words of Mr. BBQ, says “open.”

Brooklyn Center City Councilmember Carol Kleven announced the news to her fellow elected officials at their meeting last week, having already tried the food at the restaurant.

It opened on Aug. 24.

“I am glad we opened finally,” Shambolia said. “The city was very helpful,” he said.

Shambolia opened his first Mr. BBQ five years ago in Columbia Heights. He closed and relocated that restaurant to a former Buffalo Wild Wings just two blocks away from the original site on Central Avenue in February.

He renovated both restaurants, with the improvements to the Brooklyn Center location during the last two years culminating at the opening last month.

Ted Wilebski, who is consulting with Shambolia on the new Mr. BBQ, said past restaurants at the Brooklyn Center location have not been a good fit for the area.

“It was Mango Tango before, it was something that was probably not (in) the right neighborhood,” Wilebski said. Mango Tango served duck, scallops and “island food,” Wilebski said. It would have been a better fit in the Uptown Minneapolis area, or downtown, he said.

Wilebski, who is the owner of Wilebski’s Blues Saloon in St. Paul, said the music and dancing at Mr. BBQ is a unique feature of the Brooklyn Center establishment.

The opening on Aug. 24 featured a DJ that will be at the restaurant on the weekends with music to cater to a crowd age 25 and older, Shambolia said.

There is a dance floor off the main dining room of Mr. BBQ, two outdoor patios and an extra dining room for overflow seating.

That room is in the works to be used for business events and holiday parties as well, Shambolia said.

The menu of ribs, chicken, appetizers, sandwiches and burgers is available for lunch, dinner and catering he said.

They are offering delivery to hotels surrounding the restaurant and an inexpensive “box lunch” to cater to people working in the area, Wilebski said.

In the future, Shambolia said they would offer brunch on Sunday and hope to extend their hours on Friday and Saturday to 4 a.m.

Mr. BBQ is currently open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. The additional two hours would be for the music and dancing, but alcohol would not be served after 2 a.m., Shambolia said.

Wilebski added they would like to develop specials for sports fans during Minnesota Vikings, Gophers and Twins games and a happy-hour menu.

“The city has been really nice to work with, but it’s been a labor of love to get this place done,” Wilebski said.

Slim’s in his hometown

Omar Abuisnaineh is opening a second location of his restaurant, Slim’s, at Brooklyn Boulevard and 69th Avenue in Brooklyn Center in November. The building is a former Starbucks Coffee. (Photo by Katy Zillmer – Sun Newspapers)
Omar Abuisnaineh is opening a second location of his restaurant, Slim’s, at Brooklyn Boulevard and 69th Avenue in Brooklyn Center in November. The building is a former Starbucks Coffee. (Photo by Katy Zillmer – Sun Newspapers)

Omar Abuisnaineh is returning to his roots by opening Slim’s, which was his nickname growing up in Brooklyn Center.

Abuisnaineh, 26, currently lives in Brooklyn Park. After graduating from Park Center High School, Abuisnaineh said he pursued his interests of opening a restaurant, cooking, and developing the menu.

“It’s a passion of mine, creating good, quality food,” he said.

Abuisnaineh purchased a building that housed a Starbucks Coffee, until it closed in 2010, and a vacant home to the north at the busy corner of Brooklyn Boulevard and 69th Avenue about a year ago.

The area features a Culver’s, SuperAmerica and the expanding Luther car dealerships.

“I feel like the concept fits really well in the location,” Abuisnaineh said.

The new Slim’s restaurant will be an expansion of the New Hope location to include more seating and possibly a drive-through for customers.

Abuisnaineh said the service would be “fast casual” for customers to order their food at the counter and have it brought to their table.

The Brooklyn Center City Council approved a zoning change of the two lots on Brooklyn Boulevard from service/office and commerce to a new planned unit development commerce district at its Aug. 27 meeting.

The home to the north of the future restaurant will be demolished to use the space as a parking lot, which was also approved by the city council last week.

There will be a public hearing about an ordinance to amend the city code to include the rezoning of the two properties on Monday, Sept. 24. The city council approved the first reading of the ordinance amendment last week.

The menu at Slim’s in Brooklyn Center is planned to have pizza, sandwiches, dry rub chicken wings, gyros and ice cream, Abuisnaineh said.

“We take pride in all the food being made fresh. We can have it out as quickly as a fast-casual restaurant. I think it’s going to have a great family atmosphere.”

Info: mrbbqusa.com, 763-560-9293; slimspizza.com.