Tasha Smith finally has room to stretch her elbows in her new kitchen. At her old spot on Cherokee, she’d box up her customers’ orders to go and watch them leave with their food or sit in their car and eat. Now, she gets to see her customers settle into one of Bluewood Brewing’s tables and take their first bite of her heavenly sliders – and hear them sing her praises.
Smith moved her slider spot Burger 809 down the street from her old digs to join Bluewood Brewing (1821 Cherokee Street, 314-261-4079) in early January. Now, she serves her sliders and sides at the brewery, a move the gives her the space to serve her guests more fully and also provide dining options to a new audience.
“They’re glad that we’re here,” Smith tells the RFT. “They definitely love the connection of burgers and beer. We’ve been getting a lot of good reviews saying the food is awesome. It’s always good to hear. Connecting with Bluewood has been awesome, as well.”
Prior to Burger 809 joining the brewery, Bluewood had been operating in tandem with Mac’s Local Eats. Then, in the summer of last year, the brewery suddenly announced that Mac’s would “no longer be operating out of Bluewood Brewing after August 3, 2021.”
Mac’s pushed back against the departure announcement, saying they had “every intention to honor their lease” while actively looking to find a bigger space; the burger joint ended up moving in November to the former Brew Hub Taproom building on Oakland Avenue of the same year. Bluewood Brewing co-owner Cam Lund told the RFT he was disappointed to lose Mac’s, but having Smith and her culinary talents have been incredible.
“I’ve just been blown away and [by] the diversity of the menu too, like that was something we’ve never really had before; people now have sides,” Lund says. “They have these different specials that are just keeping it fresh. It’s not just a burger and fry combo anymore. And the portions are actually nice because now the sliders are this big – they’re not so substantial that you’re completely filled on one or the other. You can kind of manipulate your experience a little better.”
Smith has introduced new sliders and sides to her menu: The Bluewood Baby, as previously teased when she and Lund announced the move, features cheese sauce, grilled onions, pickles and lettuce served on a pretzel bun and has taken off as a favorite menu item . The Chipotle Black Bean burger, a veggie slider made with a blend of whole kernel corn, black beans, red and green peppers and smokey chipotle chiles, has also become a customer favorite. Another addition to the menu is the Self-Care Salmon, an Atlantic salmon fillet marinated in garlic herb butter; it’s a larger portion of the Southside Salmon Slider from Burger 809’s former Cherokee Street location menu and has been another big hit.
Coming soon to the menu is the November Baby, which will have monterey jack cheese and mozzarella cheese melted together with honey mustard and onion rings, all sandwiched between a pretzel bun. But Smith’s favorite is a little different than the new additions.
“My favorite would be the 809 melt, and I love fresh jalapenos,” Smith says. “So I’d get the 809 Melt with fresh jalapenos and a side of onion rings and Mac and cheese.” It’s so hard, so I may have to get both. I’ll get the onion rings, maybe with it and the side of Mac and cheese.”
The venture into a partnership with Bluewood Brewing has also given Smith a chance to extend her customer base, while Lund emphasizes how great it is to have Burger 809 in house for future plans.
Lund says bingo and trivia nights have started to make their respective comebacks, but Bluewood Brewing is eyeing future events like an Oktoberfest and new bottle releases. Smith says she is excited to grow the catering branch of her business and serve large parties within Bluewood Brewing now that she doesn’t have any space constraints. At her previous location, she preferred to cater only her side items due to lack of room, so the new arrangement is allowing her to expand her offerings.
Smith had also teased French fries coming to the menu the last time the RFT talked to her, but she isn’t quite in love with them yet. She keeps making tweaks and is excited to keep finding new iterations. In the meantime, she’ll keep enjoying seeing everyone sit and bite into her sliders and sides, all while plotting her summer menu and future plans.
“We love the Cherokee street community,” Smith says. “That’s been awesome. I’m looking forward to warmer weather for the patio space. I’m still creating, I don’t know what’s to come; I’m just kind of going with the flow, trying to perfect the food recipes, and then maybe we’ll have someone come in and copy and mimic what I do, like a second Tasha. That’d help out a lot.”
Bluewood Brewing is open Wednesday through Sunday; the hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays are from 3 to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30 am to 10 pm, and Sunday 11:30 am to 8 pm Scroll for more photos of Bluewood Brewing.
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