On the outskirts of Columbus, along East Main Street, stands a family-owned eatery that fills the air with the smoky aroma of ribs and brisket – a scent that makes it almost impossible to walk past. And, although the small brick building may not catch your eye at first glance, the establishment is well-known throughout the community it’s served for the past seven years. Welcome to B&K Smokehouse, barbecue at its finest.
Opened in June 2013 by brothers James and Keith Howell, B&K Smokehouse brought in a mere $67.00 the first day of business. Admittedly not the “grand” opening they had hoped for, James and Keith were determined to make the business a success.
“Before we opened, this place was a different restaurant,” said James. “We saw how the owner struggled and had to give it up – that wasn’t an option for us. We had a vision and wanted to see it through.”
The Howell brothers had the means to make it work. And, although their history didn’t follow the conventional path of culinary training, their hands-on approach and natural talents helped prepare them for the food industry.
James, a United States Army Veteran, gained his experience by throwing backyard barbecues for military comrades during weekends and holidays; a fun gathering of friends that helped him perfect what his brother refers to as his “million dollar recipe.”
As for Keith, he had a different path. Starting out as a dishwasher for a large hotel chain in his early teens, his knowledge of the kitchen grew as he continuously picked the brains of highly regarded chefs. With curiosity and an eagerness to learn, it was only a matter of time before Keith transitioned from cleaning dishes to preparing gourmet meals.
Through hard work and determination, it didn’t take long for the Howell brothers to win over their community. Currently B&K Smokehouse thrives, bringing in an average of 75 to 100 customers a day – often times “regulars” who never pass up a chance to enjoy their favorite dishes and home-cooked sides.
“Our repeat customers walk in the door and we immediately know what they are going to order,” said James. “It never fails, we are able to call it out before they do.”
With the steady stream of loyal customers, the Howell brothers are ready to take their business to the next level. In the summer of 2020 B&K Smokehouse will be moving to a more spacious building located two doors down. The new restaurant will provide a larger kitchen space, and a seating area that can accommodate up to 50 customers – a step up from their current location with seating for only 15.
On track to open in June, renovations are well underway for the reveal of the new and improved B&K Smokehouse. The feel will be warm and welcoming with a family-friendly appeal. And though the change in appearance may be drastic, Keith and James guarantee the “million dollar recipe” will remain the same.