While looking at my Twitter feed I received a message from @Woodysbbqca that read….
Hi, we’re opening a new BBQ restaurant in Guelph & want 2 invite u 2 an exclusive pre-opening event this weekend!
I have to tell ya… it feels pretty special to be asked to attend events like this and that the BBQ community thinks that highly of me to want me involved.
After a couple of emails back and forth I made plans to visit Woody’s Bar-B-Q’s newest location on Sunday May 6th 2012 and I would be there to sample some of their food and mingle with some of the staff before being opened to the public the day after.
Guelph is a good hour and a half west of me but the travel was not an issue since I had planned to visit my parents in Kitchener after the dinner which is only 20 minutes from there.
The first thing I found upon arriving at the address is that the restaurant is set far back from the road and is not very visible as your driving by. But it does help that they had an extra advertising sign at the edge of the road.
The front door had a sign on it that they were having a private function and after walking in I was greeted with a smile and asked where I would like to be seated.
I chose a stool at the bar and quickly was asked by a staff member if I would like a beverage. The adult beverages were not available since they were not officially opened I guess, but that is ok as I enjoy to have Iced Tea with my BBQ (unless Cheerwine is available of course :- )
Being a soft opening the entire menu was not being served but there was still a variety of BBQ Items that were available, and besides with the food all being comp, it is all good!
My only regret would be not being able to taste brisket or the ribs, but perhaps I will get that chance on my next trip west.
After asking my server for some suggestions, (she was very helpful that way) I decided I would try the Corn Nuggets and Fried Dill Pickles to start with along with a Sloppy Woody Sandwich with 2 sides (Fries and Brunswick Stew)
While waiting I looked around and was impressed on the decor of the restaurant. It had a southern feel to it and made me feel at ease in the environment.
It did not take very long before my appetizers arrived and I dug into the Corn Nuggets first.
On the menu the Corn Nuggets are described as “Sweet Corn that is Crispy on the outside , Moist on the inside” and that they were, They kept the heat and with dipping into the Ranch Dressing they were addicting just as I was warned by my server.
I think this is a great idea for having as an alternative to the more traditional Hush Puppies that we are all more familiar with.
The Dill Pickles were also nicely done though I am not a huge pickle fan.
While munching on these tasty little morsels I was greeted by the President of Woody’s Bar-B-Q Corp. Canada, Dan Masters.
We chatted for 10 minutes and he was a very friendly chap that did make me feel welcome and I found him to be an interesting person to deal with. Dan was open and was very willing to answer any questions I had.
In front of me was a table menu of specials that will be available once they are open for real.
Here we go… time to dig into the main course.
Right away I was told that this is more of a sample of the food than regular serving sizes so the pulled pork sandwich is smaller than the norm. The Sloppy Woody is kind of like a Sloppy Joe but with pulled pork rather than ground beef and it is marinated in sauce. Pretty tasty indeed.
I really enjoyed the slice of corn bread, so fluffy and moist, a real winner!
The fries were lightly salted and had great colour, nothing ground shaking but good fries that complimented the meal nicely.
I am a huge fan of Brunswick Stew having enjoyed it so much on two separate occasions at Southern Soul BBQ in Georgia.
This would be the first time that I could taste some north of the border, and it did not disappoint!
The great thing about Brunswick Stew is that it is a mix of many flavours that is real southern comfort food.
If I were to of had the Chicken or the un-sauced pork I would of sampled the house sauces of which there are 4
I had intended to try the sauces but got distracted by other things and did not get to try them, that will also have to wait until I do a return visit.
Darren Miller, owner of the Guelph location then came over to chat and he introduced me to his Wife and Partner and we had a great talk where I asked him a little more about his new venture and he shared with me how he loves to cook low and slow at home even on his gas grill which is also how I started in this hobby so I could so see where this man was coming from. It was obvious to me that he had a passion for the business.
Now it was time to take some pictures of the people that put on the day!
Their mascot Percy the Pig even came out for a visit.
After spending close to 2 hours at Woody’s it was time to make my way to Kitchener, I had enjoyed this experience and was very glad that I made the trek to Guelph.
Thank-you Woody’s for the invitation and the hospitality!
On the way out I was given a take-out menu which I have scanned for you to see.
(Click to see the take out menu in it’s full size)
Some other pics I took while outside on the way to my car.
After I made it home I wrote an e-mail to Dan Masters the President of Woody’s Bar-B-Q Canada Corp and conducted an interview and here is our chat…
Interview with Woody’s Canadian President
1. I understand that Woody’s is a Chain of Bar-B-Q restaurants from the States, Could you please tell me more about the chain and where it got it’s roots.
2. How did it come about that you got involved and brought Woody’s to Canada?
I had early retired from my previous chains and was a Woody’s customer in Florida so I bought the rights to Canada in 2007. I also helped them in a consulting role to get through the recession before we begun here.
3. Are the Canadian restaurants the same as in the South?
80% we have made some changes. Example in the US it’s chili cheese fries in Canada it’s Bar-B-Q Poutine.
4. How would you describe the typical Woody’s customers?
Everyone…we all just order different items.
5. In your view what makes Woody’s successful?
Our food is amazing and perfected over 30 years of competing in the toughest Bar-B-Q market in the world..the South!!
6. BBQ is really taking off here in Canada in the last couple of years, why do you think that is?
It’s comfort food and tastes great. A lot of Canadians go to the south and enjoy it there so why not at home.
7. Any future plans of more Woody’s coming to the Canadian market?
We are opening locations right across the country one every six weeks or so.
8. What comes first Franchise owners coming to you and your finding them a location or do you plan the location first and then search for owners?
A bit of both.
9. Any final thoughts that you would like to pass on to my readers?
Just we hope they try us when we open in their home markets.
Thanks Dan, I appreciate your time and also for extending me the invitation to visit your Guelph location it was a lot of fun, and I was very impressed, I wish you all of the best with Woody’s Bar-B-Q
Interview with the Owner of Woody’s Bar-B-Q in Guelph
1. Your the new owner of a BBQ Franchise that is just opening, and this must be exciting for sure, but could you tell me a little about the process of your getting this opportunity?
Months before I contacted Dan Masters (President of Woody’s Bar-B-Q Canada) with my interest in purchasing this franchise, I watched Woody’s Bar-B-Q enter into Canada as I was looking for a restaurant of this nature. As it started to grow across the country, I knew it was a business both my wife and I would be interested in. Once Dan and I met in June 2011, I think we both hit it off well and interest became a reality just less than a year.
2. Can you tell me about your BBQ Experiences before the restaurant came along and why you wanted to get into this business?
I do have culinary training, and worked for many years in my Mother and Father’s restaurant… But, I just love to do all kinds of bar-b-q, and always have. For years I have been the back yard guy that invites all of our friends over, get up at the brink of dawn, get the bar-b-q smoking, spends a ton of money on cuts of meat like prime rib, pork ribs, and even oysters just to sit with friends and watch them feast.
3. How did you find staff? This is not your hole in the wall BBQ joint, it is a full restaurant.
I think like every restaurant, we do have lots of experienced staff both front and back house, as well as some very personable, energetic trainable entry level bodies. For recruitment, we ran an employment ad on a web site, and within a couple of days, we were flooded with more than 135 applicants, at which point we had to remove the ad. And of course, we do have some secret weapons preparing the bar-b-q that could make a shoe sole tender!
4. How much support do you get from the Woody’s Bar-B-Q Head office
Support from head office has been fantastic, all the way from President, down to the training team we brought in from all over the country and US. Both Jackie and I were fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks working alongside of the employees of the very first Woody’s Bar-B-Q that opened close to 35 years ago in Jacksonville Florida, training under the watchful eye of Woody himself. In all, the support over the last year or so has been fantastic!
5. I understand that your using a Southern Pride 300 Smoker, Do you have an experienced Pitmaster to run that or do you handle the smoking yourself?
That is correct, we are using nothing other than a Southern Pride smoker. But, It’s actually a combination of both myself and trained Pitmaster’s operating it… there is no way I would buy this machine and not have “Darren” time with it!
6. What is the most pleasing aspect about running your own BBQ Restaurant?
The smiles on my customers face after the first bite of Bar-B-Q, interacting with the customers and sharing bar-b-q stories, and the sight of Bar-B-Q sauce from earlobe to earlobe!
7. Do you just look for walk in business to build your clientele or do you do other things in the community to attract customers?
We receive support from corporate as a franchise for advertising of course, but we will be venturing into charity events once we get our feet off the ground. I will also be venturing out into the community to meet with the local manufacturing companies offering our catering to their functions, and just stopping in to say hello. I have been involved the local businesses for many years now, and all of whom are very interested in what we are doing. And, let’s not forget about “Percy” the Pig who will be out waving his hands and doing a little dance out by the road!
8. What would you like to say to any prospective customers that is reading this right now.
Come on out and experience real Southern Bar-B-Q at Woody’s! Whether it’s just kicking back with some friends, smoked chicken wings and a cold beer after work… or the full blown Woody’s Feast and throwing the fork and knife aside! You will not be disappointed!
9. Any thing else that you would like to add in closing?
I do love hearing Bar-B-Q stories… whether good or “not so good” if in the restaurant and have any good stories, please look me up and share! I may have one or two that may top it!
Thanks Darren, I Thank you very much for the hospitality you had shown me on Sunday, I had a great time.
Social Media and Information…
Woody’s Bar-B-Q Canada Twitter account @Woodysbbqca