May 13th, 2009 | Interviews

Territory BBQ and Records is the new restaurant-slash-record-store from Tony Presedo and Curtis Brown—formerly of Tee Pee Records and the band Bad Wizard, respectively. They will stock heavy music and serve heavy food prepared in part by heavy chef Dave Reeves. This interview by John Henry.

What are you cooking?
Curtis Brown: It’s basically Southern-style food: fried chicken, fried catfish, the normal sides, pulled pork, spare ribs, brisket, all dry-rub. And most of the recipes are recipes I grew up with that my grandma cooked.
The BBQ is cooked in a regional style, right?
CB: Yeah—North Carolina. That being the region. But there’s eastern and western. All styles of North Carolina food will be represented. I’m from the west—Asheville, North Carolina.
I took a road trip through the south and ate BBQ in every state. What makes North Carolina BBQ different from Texas or Tennessee style?
CB: Vinegar and red pepper. That’s east. But in the west they use mustard so we’re doing a combination—which is to say that I’m serving mustard sauce on the side. The kind of meat we use in North Carolina is pork butt and the spare rib on the pig and the brisket. The cheap cuts of meat that poor people are able to make delicious. They have been for hundreds and millions of years, you know.
Tell me about the sides.
CB: Coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, collard greens, baked beans—but we’ll also do specials once in a while. If I go to the farmer’s market and they have a shitload of really nice okra, I’ll make fried okra until it runs out. Or if I get some summer squash, I’ll make a squash casserole. There will be specials on the weekend in particular.
Why did you decide to combine a record store with a restaurant?
Tony Presedo: I moved out here about a year and a half ago and I stopped doing TeePee Records in August. I started to think I wanted to do something different and I wanted to do a shop of some kind. The idea was bouncing around in my head for years and this guy moved out here three months ago and he just randomly called me. I hadn’t talked to him for a while so we got together and he mentioned the idea of opening a restaurant, and I mentioned the idea of opening a record store. So we just took the two ideas and made them into one.
CB: We were lucky enough to find this space. Honestly we were getting frustrated. We were looking everyday for about a month.
TP: We looked around all the usual haunts—Sunset, Rowena, Hyperion—all the general strips where there’s shops and restaurants. And we were getting frustrated because it was either too expensive or it wasn’t exactly what we needed. I had already scouted this area looking for a place to open up a shop a few blocks up. I said, ‘Curtis, let’s go over here.’ So we’re driving around and all of a sudden we see this building that has a very distinctive look—a lighthouse. Boom, that’s it—there was a FOR RENT sign on it. So we turned around, called the landlord and within days we were in here. I think some of the best things happen that way. Sometimes people make things difficult and overthink everything. You don’t necessarily need to do that to make a good business.
CB: I like the idea of a destination—a place where people can just dick around all day. Theoretically when we get our beer license in a few months, than we’ll really have people just chillin’.
TP: This idea is a really good thing for Los Angeles because you drive so much and you go to so many different neighborhoods that by the end of the day you’re exhausted and you’ve been in the car for about three or four hours. We thought, ‘Find something central and then make it multi-purpose.’ Food, beer, records. Nine out of ten people I know love those three things. That’s why this space is so great—and why I think the idea is so great is because it ties all that stuff together.
Have you meet your neighbors yet?
CB: We’ve met everybody. Everybody’s super fucking cool. It’s not elitist food and it’s going to be inexpensive, too, which is the number-one thing—even on my taco truck—to make food that’s cheap. So I think that’s going to be the appeal to folks that live around here.
I heard about your taco truck in New York—what’s up with that?
CB: Endless Summer Tacos—it’s a taco truck that opened about a year ago and is still there on Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg. I basically got the idea from here and then brought it out there. Now I’ve got the idea for the BBQ place from North Carolina and I came to do it out here.
What kind of music are you going to carry?
TP: The big inspiration for me as far as the kind of store I wanted to open was basically two stores—Rocket Scientist in Manhattan and Thirsty Moon in San Diego. These are stores that kind of specialize in freakbeat-ish type stuff, psych, garage, cool r&b and soul and weirdo-type records. That’s kind of what I wanted to do because there’s plenty of stores you can go to buy the new whatever single—the new Fleet Foxes LP—and that’s great but that’s not the kind of store I wanted to have. I wanted it to be a little bit more specific to stand out. I didn’t want to open up a store selling stuff that I don’t particularly like. It kind of takes the fun out of it.
Are there label or band specifics that you’re going to carry?
TP: No, I think it’s really style specific and quality specific. What it will be is mostly used vinyl with a little bit of reissued new vinyl peppered in. That’s primarily what we’re going to do. At some point the record store will become a label as well. It could be something cool like Aquarius Records in San Francisco—where their website is almost like a database for people looking for stuff to find out what it is, what’s coming out and all that stuff. That’s kind of what I want to do with the store. Rocket Scientist, Thirsty Moon, Twisted Village—those are all stores I loved shopping at.
Are you guys going to do an event for the grand opening?
CB: Free booze—Colt 45.
TP: There’ll be some cool DJs. There’ll be some cool shit. I think that this is going to do really well and I’m happy to stand behind it. I think the problem in L.A. that we’re both trying to address is there’s such a huge discrepancy between really expensive high-end food and real cheap food. There’s very little in between. The whole twelve to fifteen dollar entrée isn’t really being addressed here or it’s being done really poorly. There’s such a huge discrepancy—sometimes you’re like, ‘Where the fuck am I going to eat?’ You get tired of all the same shit. We’re just trying to add one more. BBQ is just so comforting. You eat it outside in the sun with a beer and your friends. It’s such a social thing. That feeling I get when I go to a place like that is what I want to do here.