A local barbecue joint that started as a food truck is rolling into Wheat Ridge.
Terry Walsh, the owner of Rolling Smoke BBQ, is planning to open a fourth location at 7100 W. 38th Ave. in July. He said he purchased the 1,900-square-foot building, which was previously home to Right Coast Pizza, for $850,000 on Monday.
“It was part of the plan all along to purchase a building,” Walsh said. “Going forward, it’s what we’d like to do in locations we open in the future. It was right in our sweet spot as far as price, and we like the fact that it’s a standalone building. Long term, we want to be able to control our rent.”
Rolling Smoke’s new location will be joining ones in Centennial, Central Park and Golden, as well as a booth at Red Rocks.
Walsh, 44, developed a love for barbecue after growing up in Oklahoma and visiting Kansas City on the weekends. He previously worked at Lehman Brothers as an account executive, then moved to Denver in 2002 and started cooking barbecue for friends in his backyard.
“When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008, I lost my job, and then I got a job at DirecTV for three years, but they ended up laying off the entire department,” Walsh said. “I was tired of the corporate world. I was tired of starting over. So I took my severance and decided to open Rolling Smoke.”
He started Rolling Smoke as a food truck in 2014, which still operates for catering events, with a restaurant as the end goal. In 2017, he opened a food stall inside Stanley Marketplace, and the next year he opened his first brick-and-mortar restaurant at 7470 S. University Blvd. in Centennial. Last year, he opened another food stall within Golden’s new food hall, The Golden Mill.
Wade Williams, who started part-time on the food truck, is now an operating partner of the business and runs operations at The Golden Mill, Walsh said.
“I want to keep expanding, so my employees can keep growing,” Walsh said.
Rolling Smoke’s most popular items are ribs, brisket and burnt ends, Walsh said. A one-meat plate with two sides costs $14. The meat is smoked using pecan wood, giving it a nutty flavor.
Walsh said he plans to invest around $300,000 into renovating the new Wheat Ridge location. He took out an SBA loan to help fund the project, and has hired Patrick McMichael with Track Architecture to design the space.
He plans to add some smokers to the patio, expand the bar menu, and add more happy hour options, including BBQ nachos.
Broker David Schneider with Axio Commercial Real Estate represented Walsh in the deal, and John Livaditis with Axio represented Right Coast Pizza.
Although Walsh had already been looking for a new location, he said he was motivated by the business’ ability to bounce back from the pandemic.
Rolling Smoke’s sales were down a little more than $1 million in 2020 compared to 2019, after losing catering business. But he said they’re back on the rise, since barbecue fared well with takeout.
“Catering is coming back in a huge way,” Walsh said. “We’ve never seen so many event requests before, since everybody is rescheduling plans from the last two years.”