Sugarfire Smoke House is pleased to announce the opening of its 14th location at 1101 Lodora Dr., Wentzville, Mo. 63385. Based out of St. Louis, the award-winning smoke house will open for business at 11 a.m. on Thursday, October 17 within The Junction development, prominently located at the crossroads of America, where Highway 70 meets Highway 40.
Founder Charlie Downs and co-founder and chef Mike Johnson will join forces with seasoned franchisees and family members Matt Martin and Jim Cook for the pair’s fifth Sugarfire location, coined “Sugarfire Wentzville.” Co-owners Martin and Cook have partnered with Johnson and Downs since 2014 as operating partners of the first franchised location in Winghaven. As Wentzville natives, the duo remains heavily involved in the booming Wentzville community and is eager to bring Sugarfire’s award-winning ‘que to their backyard.
A fast-casual concept, Sugarfire Smoke House opened its flagship in St. Louis in 2012, and since, Downs and Johnson have expanded its imprint across Missouri to eight locations, including a location within the National Blues Museum, and an extensive catering program. Furthermore, in 2017 the barbecue empire crossed state lines, with locations now in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. With a background in fine dining, and training under the iconic Emeril Lagasse, Johnson created Sugarfire’s menu to reflect a variety of barbecue styles, techniques and influences found throughout the United States.
Known for its succulent brisket, pulled pork and ribs, as well as its signature sandwiches and sides, Sugarfire has consistently been ranked best barbecue in St. Louis by local and national publications alike. Additionally, Johnson has served as a celebrity guest pitmaster and competitor in events globally, including Hogs for the Cause, the Perth Yak Ales BBQ Competition, Memphis in May, Australia’s Meatstock, Brazil’s Churrascada, Ireland’s The Big Grill Festival, The Kansas City Royal, Charleston Wine & Food Festival and the World Food Championships, to name a few. Johnson has also been featured on a variety of national television shows, including Food Network’s “Burgers, Brew & ‘Que,” “Beat Bobby Flay!” and “Beat Bobby Flay! Rematch,” Destination America’s “BBQ Pitmasters,” and Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise,” and recently worked alongside Budweiser to set the Guinness World Record for most people grilling simultaneously.
Having had interest in expanding into the Wentzville market for some time, Johnson found Martin and Cook to be the perfect duo to help bring Sugarfire’s playful culture and expansive selection of barbecue offerings to Wentzville.
“We’re bringing something to the Wentzville community that it never knew it needed! We already have so much planned for the opening weekend and the first few months, we can’t wait to see it come to fruition,” says Martin. “We know this town is going to fall in love at first bite.”
A stand-alone building, Sugarfire Wentzville will open alongside the Holiday Inn Express and Junction Luxury Living apartments, with more neighbors to come. Complete with a lower outdoor patio, a rooftop patio, sand volleyball courts and a private event space, this will be Sugarfire’s largest location to date.
The newly-constructed 5,000-square-foot interior will seat up to 110 guests total, including both high and low tops, booths and ledge seating. Design-wise, the duo will pay homage to the city’s beginning as a railway system via industrial décor, steel, and reclaimed wood throughout:
“We wanted to pay homage to our city’s roots and decided to go with a train station aesthetic, and it turned out even better than expected!” says Martin.
Upon entering, guests will be greeted by reclaimed railroad tracks and vintage railroad crossing signs affixed to the ceiling, a nod to the active Northfolk Southern Railway located behind the building. In true Sugarfire fashion, a 35-foot glass mosaic of fiery flames will line the queue, giving guests a visual of what’s to come. Hand painted signage by local artist Phil Jarvis’ and Martin’s own artwork will also adorn the walls in addition to fun retail items for guests to purchase. As patrons approach the counter, fans of Sugarfire’s downtown location will recognize the giant neon sign above the ordering station, lighting the way to barbecue bliss.
As for the bar, Sugarfire Wentzville has reconstructed a life-sized train car that offers 360-degree windows for customers entering the line to pick up a milkshake or grab a second beer.
In the dining room’s decor, the restaurant commissioned Phil Jarvis for a large mural of Sugarfire Wentzville’s custom train-themed logo. Guests will find a mixture of wood, steel and primarily whole brick throughout the interior, further complementing the restaurant’s train station vibe. Furthermore, Barry Kraft of St. Louis’ Reclaim Renew secured real barn wood spanning back over 150 years to add vintage texture. Custom metal booths from Next Level Metal will make appearances in the dining room and metal works will also be found within the private event space next door, Sugarfire Reserve. Large metal garage doors will also give guests in the dining room a view of the cooled and heated patio that overlooks the courts. Lastly, several TVs will be positioned throughout, with personal TVs located inside each booth.
Guests looking to spend time outdoors will enjoy the 2,000-square-foot outdoor patio, complete with a full bar and two sand volleyball courts. All are invited to spike! the ball, as the courts will feature both competitive and recreational leagues. As the colder weather approaches, the patio will only be open when weather permits and will offer a full bar as well as the restaurant’s fast-option menu, featuring chicken wings, brisket toasted ravioli, loaded nachos, barbecue sandwiches and more.
New to the Sugarfire brand, but a staple in the community, is the pink fire truck that was recently purchased by Martin and Cook to reside at Sugarfire Wentzville. Though it will still be used by the local fire department for community events and local outreach, the pink truck will primarily serve to hose off the volleyball courts, and guests lucky enough to find themselves in the right place at the right time can catch the show! Finally, in support of those affected by breast cancer, the entire Sugarfire Wentzville team proudly invites all breast cancer fighters and survivors to sign the pink truck to show their solidarity against the disease.
The Sugarfire Wentzville menu will be consistent with other Sugarfire locations, with premium meats made-to-order on Ole Hickory smokers offered alongside signature sides and famous sauces. A mainstay menu items setting it apart from other locations is Sugarfire Wentzville’s crowd-pleasing smoked wings, available all day, every day! The counter-service menu will also highlight concept staples such as house made cookies, pies and boozy milkshakes. Over-the-top daily specials incorporating locally farmed produce and meats that are announced via the restaurant’s social media platforms each morning. A large selection of local craft beers, sodas, and specialty beverages will be available and the fast-casual layout will allow patrons to queue up to the restaurant’s carving table, where all are encouraged to enjoy complimentary samples as well as interact and ask questions about the restaurant’s chef-driven menu.
Spearheading the kitchen will be executive chef Matt Glickert. With over 15 years of culinary training under James Beard Award-winning chefs, Glickert currently serves as executive chef of Sugarfire “44” Valley Park and was recently named “Chef of the Year” by Sauce Magazine. Assisting Glickert is executive sous chef Ben Sarver and pitmaster Justin Dye, both from Sugarfire’s Winghaven location. Last but not least, Sugarfire veteran Rob Henderson will serve as general manager, spearheading all front-of-house staff. Henderson looks forward to bringing another Sugarfire to fruition.
To cater private events, Sugarfire Wentzville will boast a 3,500-square-foot events space next door, coined “Sugarfire Reserve.” The second of its kind, the room will house a high-quality sound system, three smart TVs and a full bar, creating the ultimate space for work or play. With a max capacity of 85, the venue will offer both custom menus and menu packages, including a never-before-seen brunch package that will debut in coming months. The brunch package will feature a variety of morning-fit favorite, and will only be available to events hosted within Sugarfire Reserve. To host your next event at Sugarfire Reserve, please contact email@example.com.
To celebrate the opening, Sugarfire Wentzville has a slew of events lined up beginning October 17 and running through the 19! Every guest that dines-in will be invited to enter a giveaway that is valued at over $1,000! To enter the free giveaway, guests will give their telephone number at the checkout register for a chance to win a jumbo YETI cooler stocked with chef Mike’s favorite Royal Oak Charcoal, barbecue tools, Sugarfire swag and four tickets to October 30 Blues hockey game against the Minnesota Wild (section 105).
On Thursday, October 17, patrons will enjoy live music on opening day from Scottie Kemp (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) and Geenahwind (5 – 8 p.m.); and on Friday, October 18, guests will have live entertainment from Denver Wade (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) and Matt Wynn (5 – 8 p.m.).
Also included in opening event’s is Sugarfire Wentzville’s October 19 “BUMP for Impact” volleyball tournament. The restaurant calls on all volleyball players and beer spectators to help break in the new courts via “BUMP for Impact,” a sand volleyball tournament that will benefit Andrew’s Hugs, a Wentzville Christy that helps children with disabilities, and Brace for Impact 46, former Cardinals pitcher Kyle McClellan’s efforts to build orphanages, schools and medical centers in Haiti. All 12 teams are full, but spectator wristbands will be available for $20 at the door and will include a whole hog luau buffet and free Andrews Ale from Friendship Brewing Company throughout the tournament. Check in for teams begins at 10 a.m.
Sugarfire Wentzville will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., or until sold out. Sugarfire Wentzville will provide counter-service, catering, carryout and delivery upon opening. For Sugarfire’s menu and more information, please visit www.sugarfiresmokehouse.
For hiring information or to apply for a position at Sugarfire Wentzville, please email your resume to Matt Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org. For media inquiries surrounding chef Mike Johnson and Sugarfire’s expansion, please contact Megan Brown, Green Olive Media, at email@example.com.