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Smokey’s BBQ & Grill, Lucky Slice Pizza play musical chairs during the pandemic

By Mark Saal standard-Examiner - | Aug 9, 2020
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The original Lucky Slice Pizza location in downtown Ogden on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. Lucky Slice has moved across the street to the space that once housed Smokey's BBQ & Grill.

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Smokey's BBQ & Grill is shown on Historic 25th Street in this 2016 photo. The restaurant closed earlier this year, and owner Tyrone Perry is weighing his options going forward.

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'St. Louis Style Spareribs.' Photographed Thursday, July 16, 2015 at Smokey's in Ogden, Utah.

OGDEN — Two popular downtown eateries are on the move.

Smokey’s BBQ & Grill has left Historic 25th Street, while the original Lucky Slice Pizza location — previously on the northeast corner of 25th Street and Lincoln Avenue — has now moved into the space, almost directly across the street, that Smokey’s vacated.

Both will continue to feed folks in Northern Utah, Lucky Slice from its new downtown Ogden digs and Smokey’s from Roy. Or possibly even the Salt Lake International Airport.

Smokey’s weighing options

Smokey’s BBQ & Grill has been offering finger-licking barbecue at 207 Historic 25th St. since it opened back in May 2015. Tyrone Perry, owner of the restaurant, says earlier this year he was in the process of moving Smokey’s out to the former Panda Express location on 1900 West in Roy when the pandemic hit. Not knowing just how much social distancing would affect business, and unable to renegotiate a new contract with the building’s owner, Perry decided to go another route — at least for the near future.

In the short term, Perry plans to offer his dry rubs and sauces online — he said they should be available soon online at http://smokeysbbqandgrill.com. Right now, a friend is allowing him to make his sauces in the kitchen at Brixton’s Baked Potato in The Junction; he plans to install a professional kitchen at his home for a catering service that’s coming in Fall 2020.

Perry says he’s been catering for family and friends since Smokey’s closed its doors earlier this year.

The restaurateur is currently weighing his options, but he says the intention is to reopen Smokey’s BBQ & Grill at some point, in some form.

“It’s not the end of Smokey’s,” Perry said. “Not at all, not at all. I’m just trying to position myself in this new reality so my business won’t be in jeopardy.”

A new Smokey’s BBQ & Grill may open in Roy — perhaps somewhere convenient to Hill Air Force Base, he says — but there’s one other possibility, according to Perry. He’s eyeing a spot for Smokey’s at the new Salt Lake International Airport.

In the meantime, Perry says he’ll offer his rubs and sauces online, offering free delivery to Weber County addresses “with a minimum order of 20 bucks or so.”

Perry knows his loyal customer base misses his smoked meats, and he’s hoping to be able to provide them with their fix in the near future — the good lord and the pandemic willing.

“You’ve just gotta roll with it and adapt as best you can,” Perry said.

A Lucky move

Chase Burch, marketing director for Lucky Slice Pizza, said the move into the former Smokey’s BBQ & Grill at 207 Historic 25th Street has given the restaurant something it hasn’t had in the last eight years — ample space. Lucky Slice opened in 2012, in its original location at 25th and Lincoln.

“Really, at that point in history, that small space was great,” Burch said. “The dream envisioned back then was to be a little pizza-by-the-slice shop, and that was all it was imagined to be.”

But soon, the restaurant became a victim of its own popularity.

“Fast-forward eight years, and Lucky Slice has become wildly successful — thanks to community support and a wonderful staff,” Burch said.

But with that success came a point where the little pizza place reached a service bottleneck. “There are only so many people you can fit in the kitchen,” Burch said, “there are only so many people you can seat in that little space.”

The new location came along at just the right time — and in the exact right place, according to Burch.

“We weren’t actively looking, but we had our eyes open,” Burch said. “It just so happened that the location came available. I think we wanted to be careful with changing locations, because people develop habits in where they go. But this is right across the street.”

In conjunction with the recent opening of the new location, Burch says they’re also launching a new menu. Oh, it’s still pizza, primarily, but there are expanded options as far as salads and dessert choices. And there’s a little more diversity on the menu, with vegan and vegetarian options, according to Burch.

And what about those who like the classic tastes of Lucky Slice? Not to worry, Burch says. The pizza joint will still “hang onto some of the classics we’ve had since day one.”

Although the service style is essentially the same as at the old location, there’s also a dedicated takeout counter with plentiful indoor and outdoor seating — a lot more than in the original, cozy, corner location of the past eight years.

“The other opportunity this new space will create is it will have a much bigger kitchen, meaning we’ll be able to produce more food, with a dedicated takeout counter,” Burch said. “This will speed up operations, because as we’ve grown more popular, people have experienced longer delivery times.”

Burch says there are currently “three-and-a-half” Lucky Slice locations — in Ogden, Clearfield and Logan, and what he calls a “half-location” at Powder Mountain during the ski season.

Lucky Slice’s owners have signed a five-year lease for the new space across the street, according to Burch. But they still own the original Lucky Slice space on the corner, with plans renovate it. Burch said there’s always the possibility that they move back to that corner space after the renovations, but “we just don’t know for sure.”

Burch admits business hasn’t been booming since the pandemic took hold, but they’re holding their own.

“It’s been a struggle for us. We’ve seen a huge drop in sales, and it’s presented lots of challenges as far as staffing,” Burch said. “But we feel pretty lucky that pizza is positioned well for the transition to primarily takeout and delivery. We’d already been doing that all along, whereas other restaurants have had to reinvent the wheel.”

And in difficult financial times, Burch says pizza appears “financially reasonable.”

“Pizza is a little bit recession-proof,” he said. “It hasn’t been easy, but compared to a lot of other restaurants we’ve been fortunate.”


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