November 17, 2017
Situated along a charming strip of cafes and independent shops in Medicine Hat’s picturesque Riverside neighbourhood, Skinny’s Smoke House is the place to fuel up on southern style BBQ.
The spread of locally-sourced brisket, pulled pork, corn bread and salads is a regular buffet at local events. The restaurant’s home-made BBQ sauce, meanwhile, is always there at the end of the line.
It might be the last item in line, but Skinny’s BBQ sauce presented an opportunity to expand the restaurant’s reach onto the supermarket shelf.
And now, Medicine Hatters are snapping up the sauce at Safeway, Sobey’s and South Country Coop.
“We started this restaurant as an incubator to see what the potential was for this business,” says chef and co-owner Todd Lindsay. “We literally started Skinny’s from scratch.”
Thinking big from the start, Lindsay and Jeff Brewster, co-owner and general manager, toured through seven states learning from the best BBQ pitmasters. Armed with Southern BBQ secrets, the duo set up a weekly booth at the Market at Medalta before they had a store front.
Seven Person’s Premium Sausage was the first wholesale customer for Skinny’s sauce. The butcher shop bought a few cases as a trial and was constantly replacing their supply.
“It was a no-brainer,” says Brewster. “People liked the sauce so we started marketing it.”
Local grocery buyers, always on the lookout for quality local products, were interested in the sauce as well.
“Local products are popular with our customers and they generally don’t mind paying a little extra money for a good quality product,” says Kevin Wagner, general manager and grocery buyer at the 13th Avenue South Country Coop. “The company and the customers enjoy supporting local business.”
Skinny’s BBQ sauce started selling in supermarket chains during the summer of 2016. Lindsay and Brewster plan on selling the line of sauces across Alberta next year.
As Lindsay and Brewster grow their retail BBQ sauce business, the two continue to grow the restaurant side of Skinny’s Smoke House as well.
A brand new 6,300 square foot flagship restaurant is under construction in Box Springs Business Park. The 160-seat casual dining restaurant is located in the same development as Medicine Hat’s 7,100 seat Canalta Centre, allowing Skinny’s to host a few more hockey teams, in-house diners and allow the restaurant to serve Alberta craft beer on 12 taps.
“Our business has been growing continuously, even throughout the 2015 and 2016 recession,” says Lindsay. “It will be exciting to see the potential of the new space.”
Indeed, with two growing revenue streams, Skinny’s Smoke House has certainly found the recipe for success.