Photograph by John Antaki

 

EAT – SmokeShow

Patience is the name of the game when it comes to barbecue and the guys at SmokeShow have it down to a fine art. They somehow manage to find time to smoke the meat, prepare all the sides, and manage three separate food trucks. The team is made up of Jermel Bennett, Will Dunaway,  Jake Wood, and Thomas Booker –four friends who met in high school and shared an appreciation for good food. Though they grew up in Evans, each went their separate way after high school but remained good friends. In 2016, after a conversation wishing there were more home-cooked barbecue options in the area, they decided to go into business together and try to fill that void themselves.

Each one had recipes to contribute from their parents and grandparents, time-tested dishes like pulled pork, baked beans, and coleslaw. After nailing down the recipes that started with “a pinch of this” and “a pinch of that” (as all good recipes do), they started off with these three items out at Pollard’s Corner in Appling. They quickly upgraded to a food truck and in the past three years have added two more trucks, rounding out the menu to include items such as Jermel’s mother’s Mac-and-cheese, ribs, green beans, hash and rice, and other Southern favorites.

Having multiple trucks allows them to serve the greater Augusta area and can frequently be found in the Evans, downtown, on post, and they still like to show up at Pollard’s Corner on the weekends. They post their weekly schedule on Facebook each Sunday. In addition to serving up a mean plate of barbecue during the lunch hour all over town, they cater events, weddings, and are at most of the food truck festivals in the area. Building on family recipes, and growing to meet the demand for home-cooked barbecue, these four best friends are making a huge and growing impact on the food scene in the area.

 


SIP – Stone Roastery

Brad Stone, owner of the newly opened Stone Roastery, would definitely qualify as a jack-of-all-trades, a man of many talents, interests and capabilities. With a great cup of coffee and a fantastic support system, this coffee shop is bound for success. The bar and tables are handmade. The walls are decorated with vintage license plates and other eclectic memorabilia that has been donated by customers or he’s collected from cars he’s restored and places he’s traveled. His grandmother painted a beautiful mural on one wall and his mother and wife make all of the cakes that pair perfectly with the coffee. But Stone is the mastermind behind every cup of coffee.

It was the early 2000s when he first walked into a coffee shop on a work trip and tried something other than your basic cup-of-joe. He was hooked. Soon he was on a mission to try coffee in every new place he traveled. Though he loves any good cup of coffee, he is particularly interested in blends using beans from around the world. When he switched jobs and wasn’t traveling as much, he had to find a place to get good beans and eventually decided to just give it a shot himself. The opportunity presented itself and, with an entrepreneurial mindset, he decided to start selling his blends. He quickly grew from providing coffee for churches on Sunday mornings to having to buy multiple roasters to keep up with demand – soon folks were asking for a cafe.

Stone Roastery opened its doors in January of this year and has a slew of options from traditional pour-over coffee to cold brew to espresso. You can get anything from black coffee to a latte with custom creamer blends or nitro float. The possibilities are limited only by the scope of your imagination with their selection of brews, add-ins, and regular and decaf options. The beans are of course for sale as well at their location in North Augusta or they can be ordered online. If you live nearby it’ll definitely be your new place to stop for coffee on the way to work and if you don’t, it’s definitely worth the drive for the quirky, comfortable, and welcoming vibe and creative coffee blends.

Lagniappe
“A little something extra”

Stone Roastery and Aiken Ice Cream are the perfect partners. The coffee shop uses Aiken Ice Cream’s flavors in their affogato and nitro floats, and Aiken Ice Cream uses Stone Roastery’s coffee to make their coffee flavored ice cream.

 

 


 

Artisan – The Tackett Family Farm and Ranch

Most people walk into the grocery store, pick up a steak or pound of ground beef and don’t think twice about where it came from. But that wasn’t good enough for Chad Tackett. After a 22-year career in the military, he was ready for something a little different. With a love for ranching and a commitment to providing for his family, he purchased a 200-acre plot in Lincolnton, a few head of longhorn, and set to learning all he could. The goal was to educate himself, his kids, and the community on what sustainable practice really looks like and how it can still provide the highest quality food.

Longhorns seemed like an obvious choice. They are a hearty breed –drought and disease resistant. After they came over with the Spaniards hundreds of years ago, many roamed wild throughout Texas and the rest of the South, building a robust tolerance to the harsh environments. They live well off the variety of grasses that grow naturally in the area. Tackett has a system for rotating the herd from pasture to pasture, allowing the longhorns to get as much as they need to eat, a variety of nutrients from the different grasses, and allowing the land to replenish itself. As a result, longhorns tend to be leaner as well, producing an ideally healthier product. As Tackett says, “If you treat the grass right, treat the land right, and treat the animals right, you’re going to have good returns.”

And good returns he has definitely had. After starting with just a few head of cattle, he’s gleaned a ton of knowledge and, having implemented it, has grown that to almost 60, selling five to six of those per year. As a small family farm, they aim to treat the animals with respect and use a local butcher that is USDA and humanely certified; the ranch itself is Home Grown by Heroes certified. They’ve got big plans for the future, hoping to continue to grow as they learn and are working on plans to partner with a local restaurant. If you’re interested in purchasing a side of beef, the Tackett Family Farm and Ranch can best be reached through Facebook or Instagram, where they do a great job of posting photos of the herd and showing the world what sustainable farming and ranching look like.

Article appears in the June/July 2019 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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