HoneyFire Barbeque Aims for a Summer Opening in One Bellevue Place

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Successful competition barbecue expert makes the jump from catering to bricks-and-mortar

BY CHRIS CHAMBERLAIN MAR 2, 2018 (Originally published in Nashville Scene)

Six years after entering the competitive barbecue circuit and two years after starting up a successful catering operation, Shane Nasby of HoneyFire Barbeque has made the bold choice to jump into the world of restaurants with his first bricks-and-mortar operation. (Why does he spell “barbeque” with a “q,” you might ask? “I spell it both ways,” he explains. “That’s just the way I wrote it the first time I was working on a logo.”) Nasby plans to open up a slick new operation in a corner location at the new One Bellevue outdoor shopping complex off I-40 sometime this summer.

Nasby first became interested in the wonderful world of smoked meats as a judge at Kansas City BBQ Society competitions in 2009. While he enjoyed the experience as a judge, it inspired him to go further. “I saw all these guys walking across the stage winning trophies and money, so I decided to get involved in competing. I bought a couple of smokers from Walmart and a tent and entered my first contest in Central Illinois in 2010. I finished in eighth place out of 50 competitors, and I was hooked!”

He won his first Grand Champion trophy in November 2015, but as he transitioned into the catering business a couple of years ago, Nasby had to cut back on his competitive calendar, entering only a half-dozen contests a year. As he refined his commercial cooking style, he made sure to keep a little of his competitive cooking flair in his food. Now he aims to combine them in his first restaurant in Bellevue.

“I want to translate the competition style to the restaurant,” he explains. “I’ll emphasize the ‘sweet heat’ flavor signature that wins contests and serve the same St. Louis spare ribs that I put into the box.” He means the styrofoam clamshells that competitive cookers are given to submit their entries to the judges. “For a contest, I’ll cook five racks and pick the best four bones from two of them to include in the box. The only difference is that at the restaurant I’ll cook them until they fall off the bone, because customers love a really tender rib.” (Unlike judges, who prefer a little “pull” to their meat when they bite into a rib.)

Nasby will cook his meats on an Old Hickory smoker, one of the best commercial cookers available. He chose that company in part because he appreciates its support of Operation BBQ Relief. He plans to serve sandwiches and trays of meat revolving around the same meats he cooks in competition. “I want to set the kitchen up for success, so we’ll be focusing on the barbecue meats. You won’t see cheeseburgers or hot chicken sandwiches or catfish on our menu.” He will make the bold move to serve a Texas-style brisket, so that’s something to look forward to!

The restaurant will seat close to 100 patrons inside, plus another 70 on an expansive patio. Located just a few steps from the new movie theater opening at One Bellevue, HoneyFire should be able to lure them in with the aroma of hickory smoke, and he’ll also reward them with a full bar stocking local craft beers and a nice selection of bourbons.

His secret weapon will be his selection of elevated side dishes. “I like to take traditional sides and give them unique twists. In fact, I’ve had to take a few of the favorites off the catering menu so that I can surprise our future customers with some really special things.” I’m intrigued! While the exact opening date is still up in the air, I’ll be there on opening day.