Double D’s Catering Recovering Following Papa Charlie's Fire Last Month

The Saturday morning of the Lutsen 99er Mountain Bike Race, Papa Charlie’s, the heart of the Lutsen Mountains business burned to the ground. 

A popular business in Cook County owned by the Marshall family, Double D’s Catering, did its food preparation in the Papa Charlie’s building and suffered a grievous loss of prepared food and equipment in the fire.

James and Christy Marshall came to Cook County in 2008. James, already becoming a barbecue virtuoso, prepared pulled pork sandwiches to serve at a booth during the annual Fisherman’s Picnic in Grand Marais that year. The Marshall’s two kids, Dakota and Dylan, sold lemonade during the event. 

For many years, the Marshalls helped operate the Chez Jude Restaurant and Wine Cafe in Grand Marais. Christy and Dakota worked the front of the house while Chef James and Chef Judi Barsness hustled in the kitchen to prepare a wide array of fine meals, made from scratch. Young Dylan diligently washed dishes to keep the whole operation on track.

Having worked in food service their entire lives, James and Christy started Double D’s Catering in 2013 to “serve the best damn BBQ the North Shore has ever seen!”

The night before the Lutsen 99er, the Marshall’s prepared to feed the racers, their supporters, and the fans who would be attending race weekend. Using kitchen facilities in Papa Charlie's they processed the smoked meat, made the side dishes, and bundled up all the service utensils. The only thing left to do was pack it up in the morning and set up near the start of the race. They went home, weary but looking forward to a busy weekend. By 6 am the fire was called in to emergency services and by the time James saw the building it was engulfed in flame.

By 9:30 that morning Double D’s announced to the Lutsen 99ers on its Facebook page, “Due to the fire, we unfortunately won’t be providing food today Lutsen 99ers. Sorry guys.”

“At the time of the fire, we had $10,000 of product on hand,” Christy said. “We had refrigerated items for the day-to-day stuff along with mixers and blenders and other small scale equipment there as well,” she added.

Double D’s Catering is the Marshall family's dream. Prior to the fire, they were planning for their best year ever. A Gofundme site was set up to raise enough funds to help replace the items lost. They have found temporary kitchen space for processing their signature BBQ and prepping food for their catering clients. 

They recovered in time to bring the Double D’s barbecue to the Fourth of July Celebration in Tofte this year, and sold out early.

The family has suffered tragedy before. A decade ago their beloved son Dylan died in a tragic accident. Christy said that living through the grief of that terrible loss has given her new skills to handle the recovery from the fire.

The pandemic brought an immediate halt to their catering business and when events were canceled they lost those sales opportunities. They turned to direct customer delivery of orders to keep food moving to their customers.

The Marshall’s have two smokers at home and James went right to work after the fire getting product ready to fill this summer’s commitments. Christy says that he loves seeing people enjoying his cooking. “He’s been at it since he could hold a spoon,” she said. 

The Marshall’s philosophy is summed up by a quote the couple posted on Facebook the other day. “You can come back from anything no matter how bad you think the situation is. It’s all about your mindset.”

The Marshall's mindset is positive. “We have a close connection to our clients, we love what we do, and we have a cult-like following for James’ barbeque,” Christy said.

Christy said the fire has given them the space to consider acquiring their own facility for food prep and storage. With their business model they are considering a mobile kitchen. Lead time for construction of a suitable vehicle is fairly long, and the cost is not insignificant, so Double D’s has arranged other kitchen space for the interim.

You can follow Double D’s recovery on their Facebook page named Double D’s Catering.