We, and perhaps you, have never thought of the headbanger demographic as being particularly interested in food. But Nicko McBrain looks at it differently. McBrain is the drummer for legendary heavy metal band Iron Maiden, and he’s come up with a restaurant concept meant to appeal to both his band’s hard-core fans and neighborhood patrons, too. Located in Coral Springs, FL, it’s called Rock ‘N’ Roll Ribs. The idea might sound a little crazy, but a closer look at the concept and its menu makes us think this just might work. Hey, Nicko’s already planning to franchise.
Not familiar with Nicko or his band? Don’t think of his group as one of those ‘80s hair-metal bands that’s been relegated to playing small-time venues as part of an oldies tour. In fact, Iron Maiden maintains a level of worldwide popularity few acts of its genre can match.
The group’s recent “Somewhere Back in Time” world tour saw them play to 1.93 million people in 39 different countries spread across six continents. It’s an arena-level band in some countries, able to fill stadiums in others. The tour was also notable for the fact that Iron Maiden’s lead singer personally piloted the leased 757 jetliner used to haul the band and its equipment around the world. No wonder the DVD of the tour, “Flight 666,” debuted at No. 1 on the music DVD charts in 22 countries on the week of its release last summer.
The British-born McBrain, who lives in South Florida when not touring, saw an opportunity to sell other things besides music to this devoted fan base. Specifically, he’s selling barbecue. More specifically, Southern-style barbecue. His menu revolves around the classics: baby back ribs, spare ribs and pulled pork.
The operating partner in the 70-seat restaurant, Rick “Moby” Baum, had some good ideas, too. Each item in the restaurant’s four menu categories (“Load In,” “Sound Check,” Support Acts,” “Headliners”) is printed on what appears to be a Ticketmaster ticket stub. It’s just one of the touches that makes the Rock ‘N’ Roll Ribs tag line, “Where BBQ Meets Metal,” come alive for patrons. Others include these promises:
“Music: You guessed it….Rock n Roll!!!….you won’t hear any lame, piped-in Muzak nonsense here, see. Nothing but the best timeless Rock ‘n’ Roll,” the McBrain camp declares. They also have the ambiance planned out: “One word…..Wild and Fun.... ok that was two words. Picture yourself, center stage at a rock show….guitars, walls of amps, drums, lights, music and then…. The best BBQ you’ve ever tasted…pretty cool huh?? No having to buy a ticket, or ‘know a friend’ to get backstage, see …everyone is a VIP!”
Throw in an alcohol license and the odd chance that Iron Maiden might show up for a live set every now and then and you have to admit: McBrain knows his target demographic like no other.
But it’s a business venture, not an endless party, and there are outside investors involved. Which is why hopes are high that the concept will not only work, but become much bigger over time.
Here’s how McBrain responded when the New Times Broward-Palm Beach food writer asked him whether there will be a chain of Rock ‘N’ Roll Ribs restaurants in the future:
“Oh, without a doubt, but this one's the primary right now so the energy is focused here. We hope in a year to two people will look at this and be like, 'Hey, nice, what's going on here?' And maybe we'll do sauces or go national after that. But the emphasis is on service, price, and quality. And I don't want to toot my own horn, but I'm sort of a big name in rock and roll. With the theme, who knows: World domination!”
The restaurant opened for business early this month. It hasn’t achieved world domination quite yet, but you have to admire the ambition.