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.”

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  • Bill

    It’s still Mango Tango, they haven’t changed anything on the inside. This place will end up failing like every other attempt there.

  • Bob

    Bill, I agree!

  • Renee

    We went there tonite and it was very disappointing. It was not kept very clean. The waitress was very friendly but didn’t seem to know alot about what was on the menu or if there was a DJ etc. We ordered and waited for 45 minutes and I had to ask for my salad which should have come out I feel within 10 minutes because they weren’t busy at all. I had to ask for my salad again and still waited another 15 minutes and that was only 5 minutes before our meals. My riblets which the waitress told me were riblets without bones were almost nothing but bones with way too much bbq sauce. My husband asked for crisp french fries and his were cold and soggy. They brought him another hot crispy order out. He was very satisfied with his ribs. I talked to the manager because I felt this was unacceptable and he was very nice and did not make me pay for my meal. I hardly ate any of it so that made me feel a little bit better. He explained that they were having a very hard time finding good help. Workers being dishonest and just up and quitting or getting fired. I feel bad for them because I really want them to succeed because we live in the neighborhood. If you do decide to go wait a few weeks. Maybe by then they will have everything in place and some decent workers.

    • Paula

      My husband stopped there last night and he had about the same experience although he waited 1 1/2 hours. He was told that they were running out of food and nobody could find the owner. He finally made it home with our order and my fried okra was cold and soggy, my beef brisket sandwich came with no barbeque sauce. It probably would have been good if things were cooked so they came out at the same time and not sitting out for over an hour. The one thing I did like was the fried catfish that my husband ordered. If they manage to stay open I will be back for the catfish. Hopefully the servers will be a little more organized.

  • Scotty

    We went into Mr BBQ tonight expecting to make fun of the food later, and shockingly had our expectations shot down. We were so worried about this place not having food that we would like, that we searched online for a menu to no avail. Luckily, we took a chance.
    The food was way better than what the previous establishments served, so I think all this slack is uncalled for. Our order was surprisingly inexpensive, as well. The decorations were still a tad tacky, but the food immensely made up for that.
    The person I went with and I don’t even like barbeque, so we didn’t order anything with a specifically smoky or bbq flavor. Our verdict is that this cheap and tasty food deserves a try.

  • jenny

    My sister and I went there on Friday 9/28. We ordered burgers and shared them. They were good. The fries, which were seasoned, were to die for. I’m not a fan of BBQ, so I can’t speak to that side of things. The decor is supposed to obviously be New Orleans style, tho the booth benches were still covered in Arizona-type crap, but I thought it looked kitchy and cute. Friday nite is supposed to be old school nite and wouldn’t mind checking it out

  • jenny

    Oh, and I should note that the waitress really didn’t seem to know what was going on, but she said she was new. There was a guy behind the bar that we talked to who know a little more.

  • Anna M Gachuzo

    I was house sitting in Brooklyn Center for two weeks in August. It was just me and the cat so I decided to explore some of the local eateries. Being a foodie this was fun for me. I was staying near the new FBI building on Freeway Boulevard I decided to try Mr. Barbecue. I had the rib tips and fries dinner which included coleslaw. I thought everything tasted. very good. The only problem was the Diet Pepsi I ordered had an off flavor. I had that sent back and drank water with my meal. The couple in the next booth had the same problem. I talked with the owner and he told me that it was just open two weeks..The food I ate was B+.

  • carol

    When is Slims opening? Will Slims still deliver? I hope to Crystal. Sure miss the burgers & wings.

  • http://Mrbbq rhonda

    I was very disappointed when we first walked to the door. The bouncers told my husband he could not wear his baseball hat so he put it in the car. Then the bouncer complained that his swearter and jeans were not good enough and said he had to have a suit on because its “steppers night”
    The owner then came out and said it was ok for us to come in. We couldnt believe we were getting harrassed just to eat at a bbq joint. So when we got in there we saw one man in a suit on and everyone else was dressed in jeans and a shirt. They don’t have to worry about us ever going back there!! So unprofessional and rude!

  • bob johnson

    horrible service, told me to leave because it was “steppers” night.

  • Barb Johnson

    We ate there when it first opened, then gave it another chance months after it had been open. The ribs are of poor quality. The BBQ sauce is awesome! The pulled pork sandwich is good and about the only thing I would order if I were to ever go back, which is doubtful. Also, for the amount of time we waited to get our food, you would think it would have been hot, but it was warm at best. Sad.