BREEZY POINT --Despite being located in the same building, two Breezy Point businesses would seem to have little in common. But they do.
Grandpa Smoky's Original Bar-B-Que and Breezy Electric Vehicles both occupy a log cabin tucked just in the woods off of County Road 11. While their names give away their differences, what these businesses do have in common is ownership.
Bryn and Nancy Hartwig have been in business here since Jan. 1. Bryn handles Breezy Electric Vehicles in the front of the building, Nancy and her mother Lorraine Aspros run Grandpa Smoky's from a kitchen in the rear.
"They are very different," Bryn said. "It's probably the most odd combination of businesses you can find."
Nancy Hartwig and her mother, Lorraine Aspros, completed a batch of Grandpa Smoky's Original Bar-B-Que Sauce. The sauce, which hasn't been for sale since 1980, is a recipe Nancy's grandfather, Smoky Bill Aspros, developed in the 1930's.
The Hartwig's bought the lot in Breezy Point three years ago, and have spent about $175,000 to get both businesses running.
Grandpa Smoky's was originally known as Smoky Bill's Bar-B-Que. Started in 1935 by Nancy's grandfather, Smoky Bill's was located on Highway 210 in Brainerd. In 1961 Nancy's parents, Lorraine and George, took over and ran Smoky Bill's until 1980.
After 1980, Lorraine and George got out of the restaurant business because of health reasons, and that was the last time Smoky Bill's barbecue sauce was available for sale to the public.
But 20 years later, after requests by old customers and a desire to get the barbecue sauce going again, Nancy and Lorraine started a small kitchen in the back of the building that also housed Breezy Electric Vehicle.
"There were people that would call saying they wanted to buy the barbecue sauce, but we couldn't sell it legally," Nancy said. That is one of the reasons she and Lorraine decided acquire the necessary health permit and to open a business selling the product again. "There's been a high demand for it, for many, many years," added Lorraine.
This time around, Nancy and Lorraine are keeping the operation small. There is no restaurant seating, but customers can order take-out smoked ham, pork, beef and ribs to go with the family barbecue sauce.
A notable difference for those who remember Smoky Bill's is the change in name to Grandpa Smoky's. When Lorraine and her husband got out of the restaurant business, the name went with the new owners and eventually landed with the Magic Skillet restaurant in Brainerd, which registered the name. Rather than fight for the old name, Nancy and Lorraine chose another.
While the idea for selling barbecue sauce came from a family tradition, the idea for selling electric vehicles was born because of the Hartwig's Breezy Point location.
Bryn started Breezy Electric Vehicles to serve people at resorts who want a vehicle for driving short distances. Being located next to Breezy Point Resort, Bryn keeps three of the electric vehicles on hand for people to rent and has others for sale.
Though they can also be used as golf carts, which is a selling and renting point, Bryn said he wants to stay away from that terminology.
"These are definitely in a class all by themselves," Bryn said referring to his electric vehicles. "Everybody assumes they are golf carts, and that goes against the grain of everyone in this business."
They are Neighborhood Electric Vehicles -- NEV's for short -- and they are sold as an environmentally friendly way to travel within a a city or neighborhood. The electric vehicles are street legal on roads with speed limits of 35 mph (top speed is 25 mph), and feature standard safety equipment such as seat belts.
The electric vehicles are made in Fargo by Global Electric MotorCars and sold at about 25 locations like Bryn's around the country. Ranging in price from $7,800 to almost $10,000, there has been a high demand for the vehicles, Bryn said.
He has also ordered several electric bikes and scooters for rent or sale.
Aside from selling their products from their Breezy Point location, both Breezy Electric Vehicles and Grandpa Smoky's are looking to the Internet as a marketplace.
At www.breezygemcars.com people can order electric vehicles from Bryn and the Web site has already proved its worth. A customer in Arizona, who found Bryn's site, has placed an order for an electric vehicle.
Grandpa Smoky's will be getting into the act, too. The Web site, www.grandpasmokys.com, is still under construction but soon people from anywhere will be able to place an order for Grandpa Smoky's Bar-B-Que sauce.
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