HUNTINGTON – Two years ago, the Kennedy family opened Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em BBQ, a small barbecue joint on 5th Street West. Recently the family opened a second location in the former home of Charlie’s Diner at Charlie’s Harley-Davidson, 408 4th St., Huntington. In addition to the barbecue eateries, the family is operating a new restaurant and catering venture at Heritage Farm Museum and Village called Our Daily Bread.
“Susan Lucas, the co-owner of Charlie’s, called us about a month and a half ago and asked if we would be interested in running the diner,” Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em co-owner Shawn Kennedy said. “She wanted to focus more on sales in the shop, and it seemed like a great opportunity, so I agreed.”
Kennedy’s career as a restaurateur evolved from a side business making barbecue smokers.
“I had actually worked as a prison guard and case worker for 12 years, and some buddies and I made smokers,” he said. “It was a natural thing for me. Everyone at the prison said I should sell the stuff. So I gradually started doing that. Then it grew into home catering. The owner of the building at West 5th Street asked if I wanted to open a barbecue shop there, and I jumped right on it.”
Co-owner Ron Kilgore had an equally organic path to the BBQ business.
“My wife, Denise, and Shawn (Kennedy) are cousins. She was a cook herself and did catering herself for 25 to 30 years. I’ve been in the meat business for 35 years,” he said.
Kilgore had worked at Ballard’s for 20 years when the distribution plant burned down in 2014. The business was sold the following year, leaving Kilgore out of work.
“I went to New York and worked at a sausage plant for a while. I went back home and Shawn’s partner approached me about buying his half of the business because he didn’t have time to put into it that it needed, we stepped in. We put our sausage expertise together, along with my wife’s catering, with Shawn’s business.”
Of course, no barbecue joint is complete without smoked pork. Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em offers a signature pulled pork sandwich called The Money Maker for $ 5.49. It’s topped with homemade coleslaw and “Mojo” sauce – a barbecue sauce named for Kennedy’s mom who everyone called “Mama Jo.” There’s also a house-made bratwurst which is available as a link ($ 4) or as a sandwich ($ 7) with grilled onions, peppers, brown sausage and homemade beer cheese. Other sandwiches include Big Daddy’s Brisket Sandwich ($ 7.49), the Capitol T. Tenderloin ($ 6.99) and a Fried Bologna Sandwich ($ 5.99). There is also a Jambalaya special on Wednesdays.
Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em BBQ’s new location is at Charlie’s Harley-Davidson at 408 4th St. in Huntington. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Cash and all major credit cards are accepted. For carry-out orders and more information call 304-523-1340. For more information on both restaurants, visit https://www.facebook.com/SMOKE.EMIF.YOUGOT.EM.BBQ/.
If you go: Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em BBQ
TYPE: Barbecue, sandwiches
ADDRESS: Charlie’s Harley Davidson, 408 4th St., Huntington
PAYMENT ACCEPTED: Cash and all major credit cards
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday