I had the opportunity this weekend to witness one amazing machine in action. On Saturday after running the 5K Peanut Run in Brooklet, I went to Ken's IGA on Highway 80 to see for myself the state-of-the-art "monster" barbeque oven that store owner Ken NeSmith has installed behind his grocery store.
"Wow" is all I can say. It really is remarkable. NeSmith hired the SmokeRise BBQ company out of Winder, GA to come in and set up his barbeque "center". SmokeRise brings in the self-basting, fully automated oven, oversees its installation, provides all of the barbeque spices and sauces, and trains their customers how to operate the machinery.
The result - an ability to cook up to 150 pork butts at a time or 170 chickens. According to SmokeRise co-owner Mark Little, their setup is state-of-the-art in the BBQ business.
"We specialize in producing world class, competition style BBQ in a grocery store setting," Little said. "We have been perfecting this concept for the last several years. Now we have launched it as SmokeRise."
"We place a full self-serve deli in a conventional grocery store," he said. "This food is based on award winning recipes from the professional BBQ circuit. It is super high quality food that is slow cooked on site with professional equipment. I assure you this is far from your typical grocery store deli offering."
At this time, Little and his partner are only working with independent grocery store owners like NeSmith who are very hands own and willing to follow their formula. "We want store owners that oversee the cooking process, and who want to be very involved," Little said. "That is why we only work with independent grocery store owners."
NeSmith said he decided the barbeque center was the perfect opportunity to provide his customers with already prepared take home items for meals.
"People are busy, and I have always wanted to address that need," NeSmith said. "This seemed like the perfect way to do that. Everybody loves barbeque and the sides that typically come with it, and that is what we have now - real barbeque and great side dishes."
NeSmith is selling barbequed pork butts, chopped pork, barbequed chickens, and ribs. In addition, he has coleslaw, potato salad, and banana pudding as well as some other side dishes. "It is one stop shopping for dinner," he said.
Little said the response has been tremendous since the oven cranked up last Monday. "I have lost count of how much we have cooked this week. Brooklet and Statesboro residents have been very responsive and supportive."
For you BBQ aficionados (aren't we all in this neck of the woods) here are some details. The wood being used to flavor the BBQ is pecan, and Bad Byron's Butt Rub BBQ seasoning is being used to season the meat.