The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Jeff Zeckel, owner of Zeck’s BBQ & More in Noblesville serves up pulled-pork barbecue and bacon-covered mac ‘n’ cheese to Beth Wood, owner of Kaleidoscope Krossing in Noblesville during the 2016 Noblesville Chamber of Commerce Taste of Business.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Jeff Zeckel, owner of Zeck’s BBQ & More in Noblesville serves up pulled-pork barbecue and bacon-covered mac ‘n’ cheese to Beth Wood, owner of Kaleidoscope Krossing in Noblesville during the 2016 Noblesville Chamber of Commerce Taste of Business.
It’s Super Bowl weekend around the globe. And while we wish that our Indianapolis Colts were in Sunday’s Super Bowl LII, we are excited that the team is making its training camp at Westfield’s 400-acre Grand Park sports campus starting this summer for the next decade.
As far as Super Bowl excitement for the Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots game, I think our Super Bowl this year will be more about the party than the game. That is, spending time with family and enjoying good food.
Those who attended the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce January membership luncheon at Purgatory Golf Club likely heard my name being called as the winner of a complimentary Super Bowl catering package for eight people, courtesy of Zeck’s BBQ & More.
A lot of Noblesville folks know owner Jeff Zeckel from Noblesville High School, from where he graduated in 1973. After going away and working 24 years for Daimler Benz, he moved back home from North Carolina and took a job selling advertising for The Noblesville Times, then The Times.
All the while, beginning when he lived in North Carolina, he was enjoying a hobby of cooking ribs and occasionally pork shoulders.
Zeckel used a homemade BBQ sauce that his dad, the late Sam Zeckel, made when he owned Syd’s Fine Food & Spirits on the north side of the Courthouse Square.
“I still use it today,” said Zeckel, who discovered when he moved back to Noblesville that Syd’s owner changed out the BBQ sauce.
“I liked my dad’s version much better,” he said.
Zeckel became a volunteer Noblesville Main Street of which Nancy Snider was then board president. She wanted prepared barbecue to be sold at the weekly Noblesville Farmers Market.
“I told her I would do it,” said Zeckel, who in 2002 set up a booth at the market, which was then in Noblesville City Hall parking lot, and had only 14 vendors.
Zeckel quickly developed a following, selling pulled-pork BBQ, ribs and lemon shakeups.
In 2004, he was asked to be the market master. And because of the City Hall expansion, he had to find the market a new home.
He wrote a letter to the county and was allowed to move the farmers market to the county parking lot at Fifth and Conner streets, on the east side of White River.
The next year, Zeckel was contacted by then Riverview Hospital CEO Pat Fox, who invited Main Street to use a Riverview-owned parking lot, the former Kahlo Chrysler Jeep Eagle lot, just on the other side of White River. Main Street board approved, and the market moved again.
“With the room, visibility and parking, the market really grew,” said Zeckel, who was market master for nine years, growing the market to 103 rented vendor spaces.
The market became one of the largest markets in Central Indiana, because Zeckel listened to feedback from customers and vendors, and followed up by running any improvements through the Main Street board. “We had great support from Riverview and the City of Noblesville,” he said. “I am proud of the legacy that myself, the committee and the Noblesville Main Street board, through those years, has left the community.”
As the market grew, so did Zeckel’s BBQ-hobby-turned-business. His bbq connoisseurs followed him to other venues.
From 2002 to 2012, he pedaled his signature BBQ to many festivals around Central Indiana. In 2012, his catering business seemed to really take off. In 2013, after being asked to cater more and more barn weddings, he decided to focus only on catering, and gave up the market. He’s expanded his menu to include sides, appetizers and other entrees, such as grilled salmon, chicken, steak, brats, or whatever people want, as he now caters business events, weddings and family gatherings. “We are all about comfort food,” said Zeckel who, in 2017, fed 1,000 people at SMC, 750 people at IMMI in Westfield and 350 people at Hunt Construction, among his many corporate events, plus 14 catered weddings.
While he has stopped attending festivals, Zeckel is among the few businesses that has participated in every Noblesville Chamber of Commerce Taste of Business and will be at this year’s April 12 event, which has been moved to the new Embassy Suites & Conference Center. He loves Noblesville and serving at community events and recently catered the Farewell Party for the Boys & Girls Club.
As for Sunday, I’m looking forward to my Zeck’s BBQ Super Bowl catered party with pulled-pork barbecue, signature BBQ baked beans and bacon-covered mac ‘n’ cheese. Mmmm good. Super good.
-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.