Stan Riley opens his second Holy Smoke, a sit-down eatery on the Far Northeast Side.
At 34, Stan Riley already is a 17-year veteran of the barbecue industry.
As a junior in high school, Riley began washing dishes for Art Yoho, the man who would become his mentor -- and later partner -- in the restaurant business.
Yoho, then owner of Yoho's Cafe and Catering on Westerville Road in the North Linden area, showed Riley the ropes: how to cook, work the smoker, control food costs and manage labor.
"Everything he taught me, I took with me," said Riley, who opened his second Holy Smoke Barbecue last week at 5251 N. Hamilton Road near New Albany.
"We're in a good place to grow," he said. "I needed a commissary and catering facility that also had a retail setting."
The store, in 2,100 square feet of space that was formerly home to Baja Sol, is more than just a sit-down restaurant: It is now is the barbecue center of his universe. It is where he prepares all the meats for his two eateries (the original is in the North Market) in Southern Pride Smokers located out back.
The space, which seats 50 inside and another 30 outside, is designed in a way that allows customers to take a visual survey of the offerings: a glass case out front houses the brisket, pork, ribs, sausage and chicken, plus a variety of Southern sides.
"Hopefully, you see what you want to eat today and see what you want to eat tomorrow," he said.
When orders are prepared, patrons retrieve their meals from the counter.
Riley uses two kinds of wood: shagbark hickory and cherry, which are cut from the log right before they enter the smoker.
Beer will join the beverage list in the next week or so. Riley said he will have the typical American macro-brews in the bottle while offering a repertoire of micro-brews on tap. For the time being, there's Frostop Root Beer on tap, along with other cold beverages.
Holy Smoke has its own brand of barbecue sauces -- "Sweet and Smokey" and "Spicy Chipotle" -- available tableside and for retail sale. And, Riley stresses, the ribs are slathered with sauce before serving, unless otherwise specified. He also offers several sauces for retail made by CaJohns Fiery Foods, a specialty-foods manufacturer located in Westerville.
Incidentally, Riley and John Hard, the founder of CaJohns, were partners in the North Market before Hard left to concentrate on his salsas, sauces and spice mixes. He also makes Holy Smoke's private label.
The new store means the end of an era at the Westerville Road site, from which Riley was doing all of his cooking for the market and catering operations. Riley bought out Yoho, who still distributes the Southern Pride smoker, in 2005. Yoho's family still owns the property but has no intention of returning to the restaurant business.
Holy Smoke is open for lunch and dinner hours daily. For more information, call 614-471-8844.
Spagio Wine Cellars is now Spagio Wine Lounge, reflecting a remodeling effort and an update in the food and wine service.
"After 10 years, I think it was time to give the place a facelift," manager Spencer Meilstrup said.
The store is located at 1295 Grandview Ave.
Additional seating has been added near the front of the store, which has an updated look, while the wine inventory has been moved to the back.
There are several new small plates on the menu, including steamed mussels, crab and shrimp salad on fried wontons and Kobe beef and ahi tuna sliders. Pizzas and other small dishes remain. All are priced in the $3 to $10 range.
Doubling its wines by the glass and flights, Spagio Wine Lounge now offers eight wine flights and 28 glass pours, Meilstrup said.
Theme tastings are still held from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays but they have taken on a less formal tone. Reservations are only necessary for large parties, Meilstrup said.