At cookouts for family and friends, brothers Casey and Cory Culver always wowed their guests with the barbeque pork, ribs, and smoked wings that came off their backyard smoker. The guys worked to perfect their recipes and cooking methods.. Where the food was concerned, their passion was simple: Make it the best it can be, and make it that way every time. After a while, they were encouraged to share their enthusiasm for creating good food beyond just family and friends. In spite of having no experience in the restaurant business, in July 2008 the brothers opened Smokey C’s Barbeque and Wings. The early business plan looked something like this: Open a restaurant in the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, check. Locate down the street and around the corner from the acknowledged New York Yankees of the barbeque world, check. Don’t worry too much about that “lack of experience” thing, check. The original location was a drive-thru place on 14th Street SW in Decatur. Casey remembers that opening day was “awful.” There were lines of traffic out into the street, and the fledging business was completely overwhelmed with the response. In time, Smokey C’s became a ritual with its many loyal customers. But, growth was limited due to the fact that there was no in-house dining space.
In September of 2009, a prayer was answered. A dine-in facility west of town became available, and the business relocated to 3075 Highway 20 West. The new location, just west of Jack’s and McDonald’s, has seating space for about 85 customers. And the brothers find themselves cooking ten times the food they did at the previous location. Many of Smokey C’s 14th Street customers still visit, but the majority of the current customers work in the industries and businesses in the surrounding area. For many, a visit to Smokey C’s is a daily routine. The business has continued to grow steadily, relying almost entirely on word-of-mouth advertising.
Over time, the menu has expanded to include barbeque pork, ribs, several flavors of smoked wings, smoked turkey, chicken, and sliced pork loin. Specialty items, such as the signature Big Smokey sandwich and the world-famous (well, almost) Tater Bowl have emerged as customer favorites. Seasonal dishes include homemade gumbo and Smoked Chicken Salad. Smokey C’s also features personalized catering for their customers’ family or business events. The Culver Brothers have gone from serving a few friends in the backyard to serving hundreds of customers a week. Through all the changes involved in this whirlwind journey, one thing has remained constant. Cory and Casey’s passion for creating authentic, Southern-style, low-and-slow barbeque has never wavered. Some people might even call them “picky.” Their pledge to their customers is simple … “We make it the best it can be, and we make it that way every time.”