After Catching Fire Over a Year Ago, Smokey John's BBQ Makes a Triumphant Return

Dalila Thomas
The newly renovated Smokey John's BBQ, which closed over a year ago after a devastating fire.
The storm is over. That’s what it felt like in Smokey John’s on the last Tuesday of January. Not just because the lunch rush had finally subsided, but because they were finally back open after 15 months. The restaurant, which had been closed over a year after a devastating fire, quietly unlocked its doors for a soft opening Monday and Tuesday. And Wednesday, the restaurant opened to the public.

“It was painful,” co-owner Brent Reaves admits. “The whole experience was painful. It’s just gut-wrenching. I think the biggest thing for me was my team. Juan and I made sure we kept them paid, because these guys have families.”

And it paid off, because those same faces greeted customers as they made their way inside the newly renovated establishment. You could see the excitement on Brent’s brother and co-owner Juan Reaves’ face as he pointed out some of the new additions.

click to enlarge Smokey John's three-meat plate is better than ever. - DALILA THOMAS
Smokey John's three-meat plate is better than ever.
Dalila Thomas
“We have a room for tastings and a pickup counter now,” Juan explained before running off to take care of a catering order.

As it turns out, building from the ground up is a lot different the second time around.

“My dad did the first one, and I had just graduated college so I was coming straight into the family business,” Brent says. “But this time, my brother and I were general contractors throughout the whole project. We were able to go through the whole process ourselves and learn it. It seems like God breaks and tears stuff down and then builds it back stronger.”

click to enlarge Smokey John's brisket sandwich - DALILA THOMAS
Smokey John's brisket sandwich
Dalila Thomas
Although the décor may have changed and some things have been added on, the food hasn’t lost its touch, and  the feeling of family remains.

“It’s like home away from home,” customer Margo J. Posey says. "I had to fly to Lubbock this morning. But as soon as I got off the plane, I came straight here. I got ribs, macaroni and cheese, cabbage and tasted the yams.”

Smokey John’s is set to throw a grand re-opening celebration on Feb. 16.

Smokey John's BBQ, 1820 W. Mockingbird Lane (Medical District)