by Steven Wright
“Your journey to culinary heaven begins just around the corner.” That warm and promising greeting in the entryway of the new Smoke-In-D’s BBQ in Sauk Rapids lets customers know their taste buds are in for a real surprise.
In his seventh week of business in his new Benton Drive location, Donald Jones, the owner and head chef at Smoke-In-D’s BBQ, has created a fresh take on barbecue cooking in Sauk Rapids. Jones started perfecting his flavor at his uncle’s meat shop in Minneapolis more than 14 years ago, where he would barbecue out front to draw in business. That led to the creation of Smoke-In-D’s BBQ and gave Jones the chance to cook his barbecue recipes at various outdoor events and concessions.
“People were amazed they could get real food at an outdoor event,” Jones said in a Newsleader interview. “They kept asking, ‘Where can I come in to sit down and order this food?’”
It was out of necessity and demand Jones opened his first dine-in and take-out BBQ restaurant in Albany. Initially only offering take-out on Saturdays, the new influx of customers had Jones expanding to a full weekend schedule.
The desire to expand continued yet again this spring. Looking at several locations around Sartell and St. Cloud, Jones settled on Sauk Rapids for his new Smoke-In-D’s BBQ location.
“This space really offered us an opportunity to grow,” Jones said.
The new location boasts a full dine-in and take-out service every Thursday-Sunday with a very unique dining experience. On one wall hangs a large chalkboard where customers can write down their thoughts and reviews of his freshly-cooked food. Felicia Frelix of St. Paul was on her way to Fergus Falls with a friend when they decided to stop in and visit Smoke-In-D’s.
“I love their Southern-style cooking, the food that grandma used to make.” Frelix said.
One group of customers scribbled, “10-thumbs up” on the board, which signified a positive review from five satisfied customers of Jones’ barbecue. The ambiance at Smoke-In-D’s is very welcoming and relaxing. Jones will play jazz music throughout the weekend and because he can’t step away for church services, he’ll fill the restaurant with the sweet sounds of gospel music every Sunday morning.
The overwhelming customer feedback and traffic has convinced Jones he’s made the right choice for Smoke-In-D’s.
“I’m so happy we picked Sauk Rapids for our business,” he said. “This community has a small-town feel and there’s a beautiful park right out our back door.”
Jones looks forward to seeing families using the take-out option and bringing their meals over to the nearby park to enjoy the view while savoring some of the best barbecue you can find.
Smoke-In-D’s BBQ is located next to Family Video on Benton Drive in Sauk Rapids. They offer catering services for parties or events and will be serving at Summertime by (Lake) George this summer as well as at other local events throughout the summer. More information can be found at smokeindsbbq.com.