Barbecue veteran joins Food & Wine

It started out as a quick-serve restaurant, but Holy Smoke BBQ is now full-service.

Owner Stan Riley said the change in programming has been good for customers and well as the restaurant.

Stan Riley of Holy Smoke BBQ says continuity has been paramount to the business’ success.

Patrons get to enjoy the casual nature of the restaurant and don’t have to serve themselves.

Another perk: They get to enjoy the craft beers – eight in all – from such brewers as Elevator, Stone and Breckenridge.

“It’s been nothing but positive,” Riley said. “The customers are lot happier. It’s a much better experience for people.”

Holy Smoke, with a location already in the North Market, opened a year and a half ago at 5251 N. Hamilton Road in the New Albany area.

Riley, now a contributor to Food & Wine, started in the business in 1993 under the tutelage of Art Yoho, who already had a decade of experience under his belt.

That’s at a time when barbecue had a relatively low profile in central Ohio. In the last 10 years or so, barbecue restaurants have flourished.

Riley, who later branched out on his own, sees that as a good thing.

“I think people are a little more educated,” he said.

That means diners are more open to different products.

Holy Smoke, for example, offers a smoked pork chop, smoked chicken wings and burnt ends – double-seasoned tips of smoked brisket.

Once the brisket is smoked, it’s re-seasoned and smoked again in small pieces for an intense flavor.

“You get a ton of smoke and a ton of seasoning,” he said. “That’s what people really seem to like about it.”

Continuity has been the key to business’ success, Riley said.

“I think that’s everything,” he said. “We stick with what got us here.”