Dave Cookson was only kidding around when he first tossed out the idea that bacon could save his pub from slow Wednesday nights.
But it turns out the 41-year-old owner of Shanahan's Pub & Grill was right.
"Maybe 12 or 13 weeks ago, we were sitting around, our Wednesday open mic night was kind of slow, and we were talking about how to make it better," Cookson said. "I jokingly said that we need bacon, because bacon makes everything better — and they took me seriously."
That's all it took to create what has become a sizzling success: Open Mic with Bacon Night.
The pub gives away 200 pounds of free bacon to customers as they enjoy the array of bands that come out to play on Wednesdays. On Oct. 10, the pub grilled up its 2,000th pound of it for the event.
"It's become very busy on Wednesdays now — they look like Friday nights," Cookson said.
It's not just regular bacon though. Cookson likes to get a little playful with his pork.
So far, he's served Bloody Mary flavored bacon, marinated overnight in the drink mix; elephant ear bacon flavored with cinnamon and sugar; balsamic and feta bacon; ghost chili bacon and bacon flavored bacon, among others.
"For the bacon flavored bacon, I used concentrated bacon base to marinate the bacon," Cookson said with a laugh. "People either loved it or hated it."
He's also served vegetable flavored bacon, which he marinated in concentrated vegetable base and then seasoned with sesame and onion.
"It tasted like minestrone soup with bacon," he said.
He tries to do a few flavors every Wednesday.
But the bacon-o-rama hasn't stopped there. Apparently, there are a couple breweries that make bacon-flavored beer.
"We've got some on order, actually," Cookson said. "It should be in soon."
Giving away free bacon can be a little expensive, but customers buy enough beer and other food to make up for it, he added.
Some food experts expect a bacon shortage next year due to grain crop problems in Europe, which could increase prices.
Cookson said he isn't worried though. He has no plans to stop serving it any time soon.
"People keep asking me how long I can go on with this," Cookson said. "It's too busy to end. It's been too much of a success."
You can experience Open Mic with Bacon Night at Shanahan's Pub & Grill, 209 W. McLoughlin Blvd., Wednesday nights from 9 p.m. until the bacon runs out at about 1 a.m. For details, call the pub at 360-735-1440.-- Sue Vorenberg
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