Today we’d like to introduce you to Allen Smith.
Hi Allen, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
When I was growing up, my grandma would feed anyone who came to her house, whether visiting or just walking down the street. That stuck with me as I get older. I’ve always enjoyed cooking but bbq was new to me in 2018. I bought an electric master-built smoker from Academy on sale and ruined the first thing I cooked, which was a roast that wasn’t ready for dinner in time. I remember calling my wife the following week saying I wasn’t going to let a roast defeat me. Bought a new one, it was better than some ribs, they were decent. Bought more ribs, they were on point. I thought hey, this isn’t hard at all. Fast forward a few weeks in fresh market and I look down and there are ribs on sale. Before I knew it, I had grabbed them and said to myself “sell them”. Didn’t hesitate or think about anything else, I just knew I felt that’s what God asked me to do. Came home on a Friday with those ribs and threw them on the counter and my wife said what’s that, I said ribs, we’re selling them Sunday. She said with what, I said I don’t know. Called my mom for her collard recipe, and we did some diligent research on other items we could sell. It was chicken breasts or ribs, with 2 sides for $10. Mac n cheese, sweet potato crunch, or collard greens were the options. We sold out 21 plates the 1st week, 62 the 2nd week and we had to sit back and think of a better strategy to get more of the word out. We did chicken wing plates, and pulled pork plates, and it grew from there. Before we knew it less than a year later, we were doing pop ups and catering weddings. I was still working full time and taking off as much time as needed to do what had to be done. I’d take a random Wednesday or Thursday off to go serve lunch at Henry Shein or BB&T call center just to spread the word and sell food. Once the time came when we knew we had something special Covid hot and deterred our plans of a food truck. It Honestly gave me more time to build the brand and evaluate what was actually best for our next move. I knew a restaurant was the move because people would know where to find us and when as opposed to a food truck having to track us down. Once the space in the middle of town came open, I jumped all on it and put in the work for 3 months to renovate and was well worth the ride.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has been a fairly smooth road. There’s been a lot of people following the journey willing to help with anything. Having electrician friends and builder friends had been a phenomenal help. Instead of having to wait on contractors. Even DHEC has been great to communicate with and very helpful.
Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Smitty’s Smokin’ Soulfood?
We specialize in creating an experience for you from the time you walk in the door and be greeted. Then given a sample of brisket if desired. Our food is phenomenal but the way we treat each other and customers are what sets us apart. The other thing is not settling to serve just anything. We’ll throw it away before we serve something not to our standards. Taking care of our employees and not just putting them to work is important to us. Make sure they’re good. If they aren’t good, it will relay to the guest’s experience, so we start at the top and expect it all to trickle down.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Taking care of people and doing things genuinely with no’s expectations of anything in return. That’s how my Grandma would’ve wanted it.
- Website: smittyssmokinsoulfood.com
- Instagram: Smittyssmokinsoullfoodllc
- Facebook: Smitty’s Smokin’ Soulfood