Sugarfire Smoke House is pleased to announce the opening of its 14th location at 1101 Lodora Dr., Wentzville, Mo. 63385. Based out of St. Louis, the award-winning smoke house is slated to open by November within The Junction development, prominently located at the crossroads of America, where Highway 70 meets Highway 40.
Founder Charlie Downs and co-founder and chef Mike Johnson will join forces with seasoned franchisees and family members Matt Martin and Jim Cook for the pair’s fifth Sugarfire location, coined “Sugarfire Wentzville.” Co-owners Martin and Cook have partnered with Johnson and Downs since 2014 as operating partners of the first franchised location in Winghaven. As Wentzville natives, the duo remains heavily involved in the booming Wentzville community and is eager to bring Sugarfire’s award-winning ‘que to their backyard.
A fast-casual concept, Sugarfire Smoke House opened its flagship in St. Louis in 2012, and since, Downs and Johnson have expanded its imprint across Missouri to eight locations, including a location within the National Blues Museum, and an extensive catering program. Furthermore, in 2017 the barbecue empire crossed state lines, with locations now in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. With a background in fine dining, and training under the iconic Emeril Lagasse, Johnson created Sugarfire’s menu to reflect a variety of barbecue styles, techniques and influences found throughout the United States.
Known for its succulent brisket, pulled pork and ribs, as well as its signature sandwiches and sides, Sugarfire has consistently been ranked best barbecue in St. Louis by local and national publications alike. Additionally, Johnson has served as a celebrity guest pitmaster and competitor in events globally, including Hogs for the Cause, the Perth Yak Ales BBQ Competition, Memphis in May, Australia’s Meatstock, Brazil’s Churrascada, Ireland’s The Big Grill Festival, The Kansas City Royal, Charleston Wine & Food Festival and the World Food Championships, to name a few. Johnson has also been featured on a variety of national television shows, including Food Network’s Burgers, Brew & ‘Que, Beat Bobby Flay! and Beat Bobby Flay! Rematch, Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters, and Travel Channel’s Food Paradise, and recently worked alongside Budweiser to set the Guinness World Record for most people grilling simultaneously.
Having had interest in expanding into the Wentzville market for some time, Johnson found Martin and Cook to be the perfect duo to help bring Sugarfire’s playful culture and expansive selection of barbecue offerings to Wentzville.
“It’s extremely exciting to bring our love for Sugarfire and Wentzville together with an idea we’ve kicked around for years,” says Martin. “Sugarfire Wentzville will be the first of its kind in many ways, and we think this location offers something special to the community we’ve had the pleasure of growing up in.”
A stand-alone building, Sugarfire Wentzville will open alongside the Holiday Inn Express and Junction Luxury Living apartments, with more neighbors to come. Complete with a lower outdoor patio, a rooftop patio, sand volleyball courts and a private event space, this will be Sugarfire’s largest location to date.
The newly-constructed 5,000-square-foot interior will seat up to 110 guests total, including both high and low tops, booths and ledge seating. Design-wise, the duo will pay homage to the city’s beginning as a railway system via industrial décor, steel, and reclaimed wood throughout:
“With such history in our own backyard, we think the train theme is right on track with our city’s roots,” says Martin.
Upon entering, guests will be greeted by a lifelike railroad track affixed to the ceiling, a nod to the active Northfolk Southern Railway located behind the building. As patrons approach the counter, fans of Sugarfire’s downtown location will recognize the giant neon sign above the ordering station, lighting the way to barbecue bliss. Reclaimed materials from St. Louis’ Reclaim Renew and custom metal work by Next Level Metal will make appearances in both the dining room and the private event space next door, further complementing the overall theme. In true Sugarfire fashion, iconic glass mosaic flames commissioned by local artist Red Keel and hand painted signage by local artist Phil Jarvis’ will line the walls, in addition to Martin’s own artwork. Lastly, several TVs will be positioned throughout, with personal TVs located inside each booth.
Guests looking to spend time outdoors will enjoy the 2,000-square-foot outdoor patio, complete with a full bar and two sand volleyball courts. All are invited to spike! the ball, as the courts will feature both competitive and recreational leagues, and alongside drinks, guests will order from a fast-option menu that will be announced in months to come. New to the Sugarfire brand, but a staple in the community, is the pink fire truck that was recently purchased by Martin and Cook to reside at Sugarfire Wentzville. Though it will still be used by the local fire department for community events and local outreach, the pink truck will primarily serve to hose off the volleyball courts, and guests lucky enough to find themselves in the right place at the right time can catch the show! Above it all, a rooftop patio will give guests a bird’s eye view of the action below.
The Sugarfire Wentzville menu will be consistent with other Sugarfire locations, with premium meats made-to-order on Ole Hickory smokers offered alongside signature sides and famous sauces. The counter-service menu will also highlight concept staples such as house made cookies, pies and boozy milkshakes, as well as over-the-top daily specials incorporating locally farmed produce and meats that are announced via the restaurant’s social media platforms each morning. A large selection of local craft beers, sodas, and specialty beverages will be available and the fast-casual layout will allow patrons to queue up to the restaurant’s carving table, where all are encouraged to enjoy complimentary samples as well as interact and ask questions about the restaurant’s chef-driven menu.
Spearheading the kitchen will be executive chef Matt Glickert. With over 15 years of culinary training under James Beard Award-winning chefs, Glickert currently serves as executive chef of Sugarfire “44” Valley Park and was recently named “Chef of the Year” by Sauce Magazine. Assisting Glickert is executive sous chef Ben Sarver and pitmaster Justin Dye, both from Sugarfire’s Winghaven location. Last but not least, Sugarfire veteran Rob Henderson will serve as general manager, spearheading all front-of-house staff. Henderson looks forward to bringing another Sugarfire to fruition.
To cater to your private events, Sugarfire Wentzville will boast a 3,500-square-foot events space next door, coined “Sugarfire Reserve.” The second of its kind, the room will house a high-quality sound system, three smart TVs and a full bar, creating the ultimate space for work or play. With a max capacity of 85, the venue will offer both custom menus and menu packages, including a never-before-seen brunch package. To host your next event at Sugarfire Reserve, please contact Matt Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sugarfire Wentzville will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., or until sold out. Sugarfire Wentzville will provide counter-service, catering, carryout and delivery upon opening. For Sugarfire’s menu and more information, please visit www.sugarfiresmokehouse.com. Stay tuned for details surrounding grand opening celebrations.