It was a little more than two years ago when we first made our way to Royse City to check out Smoke Sessions Barbecue, where we found ourselves impressed with succulent barbecue that Chad and Jessica Sessions turned out from their tiny trailer.
During that visit Chad let us in on a secret: a brick-and-mortar version of his eponymous barbecue spot was on the horizon, with plans to open in late 2019. Like anything barbecue-related, the best stuff takes time, and the Smoke Sessions restaurant is no exception. But that time is now. Smoke Sessions opened its doors to paying customers April 10. They invited us to a friends-and-family soft opening the Wednesday prior, where we caught up with Chad Sessions about the journey in making the new restaurant a reality.
"The building took a year plus," Chad says while we sat at the bar of the new restaurant. "Really, it was longer than it should've been, but with COVID-19, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we wouldn't have been able to open it anyway if we'd been done on time."
The new building is an impressive and airy space, with a tall roofline and signage making it easy to find for first-time visitors. Besides the full bar, a spacious dining room is filled with picnic tables, which spill out through a pair of garage doors to meld indoor and outdoor dining. The bar serves draft and bottled beers, as well as cocktails like smoked margaritas and a bloody mary topped with Sessions' burnt ends. Sessions plans to stay open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and a bar-specific menu for late-night is in the works.
The soft opening we attended drew quite a crowd, but Smoke Sessions seems appropriately staffed to handle it with customers moving quickly through the cutting line and the bar.
"We really haven't had as much trouble finding staff like what happens in Dallas," Sessions says, referring to the struggles some restaurants are facing when it comes to restaffing as pandemic restrictions are eased. "We've found a lot of high schoolers who are ready to work, and we pay pretty competitively for the area."
Sure, the shiny new building and competent staff are one thing but, rest assured, the barbecue is still a standout. We had a chance to grab a tray of brisket and smoked turkey, plus some potato salad and creamy macaroni and cheese, all of which were just as good as we remembered them.
"I'm a little stressed because people may think, 'Oh, he's moved out of the trailer and it won't be as good,'" Sessions tells us. But he needn't worry. The barbecue is still top-notch, only now served up in a destination that establishes Royse City as a permanent stop on any barbecue map.
Smoke Sessions Barbecue, 307 Highway 66, Royse City, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m, Tuesday - Thursday, 11 a.m. - 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Closed Monday
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