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After building his brand with a food truck, the owner of SmokeOut BBQ will be opening a restaurant in a Pickerington store this month.

The food truck operated in the Pickerington area for approximately 12 years before being decommissioned on June 12.

Now Derek Johnson, who has owned SmokeOut BBQ since 2018 with wife Desiree, is taking his first step in the store and looking to open a 2,400-square-foot restaurant at 1850 Winderly Lane.

“I thought this was a good opportunity to expand the selection of barbecues and restaurants in Pickerington,” said Johnson. “We’ll have an indoor space for just under 40 people and we’ll have drive-thru, which is kind of unique for a barbecue.”

Johnson said he decided to transition SmokeOut BBQ from a food truck to a regular business for several reasons, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food truck industry.

This includes fewer people returning to work at the offices where SmokeOut BBQ operated on weekdays.

“There seems to be fewer places to book,” Johnson said. “Many people who used to work in offices are now working from home.

“We have a lot of fans here and there aren’t many barbecues in the area. So we decided to take the next step.”

Considering this is his first exposure to a real business, Johnson said he expects to start with four or five employees.

“We will probably have eight to ten employees left,” he said.

Johnson said that SmokeOut BBQ is unique in that it is not region specific for cooking styles or flavors, but uses pure smoke.

“I use a large commercial smoker grill from Mesquite, Texas,” Johnson said. “This is a 100% wood-fired smokehouse.

“The taste will be different from what people are used to in the area due to the fact that it runs entirely on wood, no propane or gas.”

Johnson said that when barbecuing, propane or gas smokers typically use two to three logs to smoke their food.

On the contrary, according to him, he uses 15-25 firewood per cook, and the meat is smoked for about 20 hours.

Johnson said cooking is a long and slow process, so the SmokeOut BBQ will only be open four days a week from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm Wednesday through Saturday.

“Our PACC team just attended SmokeOut BBQ and our stomachs are rumbling with anticipation of great home cooking,” said Kim Barlag, President of the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce. “The owners are long time residents of Pickerington and we are thrilled that they are opening their first physical store here.

“I expect their restaurant and road transport to be on the rise.”

The SmokeOut BBQ menu is available at smokeoutbbq.com/daily-trailer-menu.

Menu items include several baskets of smoked meats and sandwiches, including pulled chicken and pulled pork, which cost $8 each.

Other specialties include minced brisket ($11), Carolina pork with coleslaw and vinegar sauce ($9), chicken wings ($13), and St. Louis-style ribs that cost $9 for three bones, 16 dollars for six dice and $28. for rack.

“We live near Baltimore and Pickerington,” Johnson said. “We love the area and we have a good following in Pickerington.

“There aren’t as many places around here that use smokers as we do, and we think we offer a unique flavor profile. Those 15-25 pieces of wood per cook – the difference is where the flavor comes out.”

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