Recently, I traveled to Swansea, Massachusetts to take in some New England Style BBQ (yes! That’s a thing!) and pick up meat pies in Fall River at Sam’s Bakery. I have a lot of family in the area, so seeing them was great, also!
It was the the grand opening of No Joke Smoke BBQ’s first brick and mortar location open to the public! I prefer to think of it as a tasting room and world headquarters. Why put lipstick on a pig when you can also smoke it, pull it, and smother it in delicious home crafted sauce unique to Crafters Ryan and Sharon Nahas.
No Joke Smoke BBQ created “New England Style BBQ” four years ago and their sauces have been slow cooking their way from farmers markets to farmers markets around New England. Their sauces are getting on more and more store shelves and one day in the not too distant future, BBQ enthusiasts will be discussing their favorite styles of BBQ and New England Style will be discussed next to the likes of North/South Carolina BBQ, Texas BBQ, and Memphis BBQ.
I love the sauce and the story and traveled from Milwaukee to see Ryan, Sharon and their team in action. I wanted to help and selfishly, I wanted to soak in the energy of their milestone. I’m obsessed with the adrenaline rush or runner’s high stemming from growth and progress.The thinking and practice are over, the stakes are real and vulnerabilities don’t hide well. I’d call the feeling a sort of “saweet heat,” but it’s already the name of their signature sauce ;).
There is a “but”, in this story. Their spot looks awesome, but the Swansea Mall has seen better days.
Tenants like Macy’s are in retreat and remaining stores are pop-up businesses and “mall hall” vendors like “Ricky” – a kid (guy) too old to live with mom and was probably given an ultimatum to get rid of his bobblehead collection or lose the (free) roof over his head. Neither Macy’s nor “Ricky” are likely to stay in Swansea for long.
That doesn’t impact No Joke Smoke BBQ. Their story is not anchored by their lease (it’s short). The space is far more than a retail location. It’s strategic and vital step in their growth. The new “hub” gives No Joke smoke the place and space to practice its sauce and cooking craft, cater events, train new employees, distribute sauces, and serve mall guests, employees, and visitors.
[Note to reader: Seems like an ideal spot for a business lunch without pretentiousness or a cost effective way for a benevolent business owner or manager could host a “pop up” holiday party right there in the Food Court! There’s event great pizza joint two empty stalls over so the vegetarian option is covered.]
No Joke Smoke is on a different and exciting trajectory. I love their sauce and their story and know they will be cookin’ up good stuff for years to come.
P.S. – If you ARE looking for a 2009 Stephon Marbury bobblehead, See “Ricky”. He’s around the corner from NJS. This guy is out there selling and I respect everyone that steps into the arena. Brother, if I made the movie, your character would be played by Will Ferrell. Call me!
Eli Howayeck (MBA, Kellogg School of Management), Founder and CEO of Crafted Career Concepts, is passionate about helping motivated people achieve their career, educational, or personal goals and helping businesses, large and small, overcome a variety of challenges facing their business.