14 Sep F. McLintocks Saloon
Toney Breault of F. McLintocks opens with a funny memory with his father. “Years ago, my dad said, ‘Son, we need to make more money on the BBQ. Figure out how to BBQ an artichoke.” Toney pauses, then smiles. “I hate artichokes.” Despite his disdain for the vegetable, Toney played with the recipe and eventually came up with a winning recipe that now sells over 400 grilled artichokes every Thursday night at The Market. (For the curious, the artichokes are marinated in Tabasco, salt, pepper, and olive oil, barbecued over oak, and then served with chipotle aioli.) Humor aside, Toney speaks proudly and evocatively about his family’s 35-year participation in the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market. His father, Bruce Breault, set up one of the original barbecues on Higuera after the Downtown Association closed the street in response to cruising. Bruce’s customers and friends from the Shell Beach location of F. McLintocks brought in produce to sell, in addition to recruiting other barbecues to set up and encouraging the stores to stay open later. Thus, the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market came into existence. Toney knew that what they were doing was special. “I believed in my father’s vision.”
He isn’t kidding. Toney started working at the restaurant when he was six years old as a dishwasher in the back of the restaurant. He shares this story with his signature enthusiasm: when an employee failed to show up one day to work, it was Toney’s dad who pushed him into the role. Toney reminisces: “Son, you’re going to see how we make our money. You are going to wash all these plates, all day. I’ll be back at 5.” Six year old Toney cried for an hour after being dropped off; then, his competitive edge kicked in, and he truly hasn’t left the family business since.
Incredibly, the F. McLintocks barbecue at The Market serves an astonishing 2,200 to 3,000 customers per night: that’s roughly one person every 16 seconds. This translates to whopping quantities of food being served in a three hour span on Thursday evening, including 600 pounds of beef, spare and baby back ribs; 150 pounds of corn; 300 loaves of bread; and 50 gallons of beans. Food preparation takes all week, and Toney knows it is indeed work, albeit enjoyable and rewarding. Through three and a half decades of being present at The Market, Toney knows many of his customers, who come religiously to The Market and grab F. McLintocks for dinner. He affirms, “This is religious to them, it’s part of the ritual of their lives … and that makes me feel special.” As Toney grew up with his father and mother, Cathy, around the restaurant and The Market, his family, too, keeps this tradition going: daughters Baileyana and Olivia may take over the business some day.
When asked to reflect on The Market’s presence in the community for thirty-five years and what, if anything, he would change, Toney doesn’t hesitate: “I want to keep it exactly the same.” He shares his enjoyment of seeing The Market prosper, grow, and evolve into a small group of businesses banding together into a world-class tourist destination and point of pride for the entire city. His wife, Ana is from Spain; they similarly share an interest in meeting visitors from all around the world and asking people where they are from. And that, he affirms, is what The Market is really about. “That’s the spirit of what is projected here: diversity, excitement, fun. Everyone is welcome.” He adds, “I’m very proud of my father, and mother, and what they have accomplished, and how it has grown. It’s very special.”
Get in line early; F. McLintocks tends to sell out. Don’t miss the start at 6 PM sharp when the entire F. Mclintocks team belts out God Bless America…a patriotic start to a historic BBQ! F. McLintocks Saloon is located at 686 Higuera Street, and you can find them barbecuing in front of the restaurant on Thursday during the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market.
F. McLintocks Saloon
Toney Breault, Proprietor
686 Higuera Street