So you want to ‘cue like a pro. Patience, young Padawan — the guys at Panther City BBQ want to help.

The Near Southside barbecue joint is turning a former home health building at 300 Pennsylvania Ave. into a barbecue school, BBQU. Panther City BBQ co-owners Chris Magallanes and Ernest Morales will teach classes out of the space and use their restaurant location at 201 E. Hattie St. as a “lab” where students can practice their newly acquired techniques. 

Classes will take place once a month, with attendees learning the whole process — the ins and outs of a smoker, wood selection, meat selection, trimming, seasoning, and more — for cooking brisket, ribs, and one other specialty meat. Students can also expect subject-matter experts — or “barbecue celebrities,” as Magallanes calls them — to make guest appearances.

“[Students are] going to see how we do it, and then we’ll actually tweak that according to what cooker they have at home,” Magallanes says. 

Additionally, BBQU will offer consulting for those looking to get into the barbecue business. The space will also include a retail area at the front, where barbecuers can purchase supplies (as well as Panther City BBQ merch). 

Panther City BBQ decided to pursue BBQU after hosting its first class last year at the restaurant. Forty-five slots were available, which Magallanes says sold out within about an hour and a half. Ever since, customers have continually asked when they’d host more. 

When BBQU begins, class sizes will be limited to 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Magallanes hopes to start the first BBQU class on Feb. 20, with other classes planned for March and April. He says all classes have sold out. 

“It’s just basically sharing the wealth of knowledge that we’ve learned over the past several years of barbecuing,” Magallanes says. 

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