Sweetfire BBQ is quickly becoming a Lincoln County staple when it comes to local cuisine.
The owners of the burgeoning restaurant that now sits at the intersection of Country Club Road and South General’s Boulevard credits their rapidly growing business to dedication, hard work and, more importantly, the love of what they do.
Sweetfire’s story began with a passion for barbecue and the Therell family perfecting their recipes as they cooked for family, friends and church. As their food began to create a buzz, Jeff Therell opened a food truck that was frequently surrounded by customers.
“We started out, my father opened the mobile operation that we had up here at the Shell station,” said David Therell, Jeff’s son and one of the general managers of Sweetfire. “After we had been there for about a year, we started looking at options to put a restaurant and then after about six months of looking and planning, it came to fruition.”
No strangers to running successful businesses, the Therells owned Fusion Composites, a company located in Vale that made racing composites. But when their idea for Sweetfire took off, they sold the business and invested everything into the new endeavor.
It didn’t take long before Jeff, David, Daniel and Kelsey Therell knew that their investment paid off. Sweetfire opened its doors on April 22 and according to David, it wasn’t long after that before he put in his two-week notice for his management position with H.H. Gregg and began working in the restaurant full time.
What makes Sweetfire stand apart is their refusal to take shortcuts. All of the side dishes but the fried okra is made in-house, and even the fried okra that is purchased is the highest quality. The french fries are hand-cut daily. The macaroni and cheese is made from scratch daily and all of the meats are smoked on site for at least 12 hours.
“We make sure that our barbecue is very flavorful,” David said. “We make our own sauce here every day.”
In addition to the barbecue, Sweetfire is gradually expanding its menu, offering fresh made chicken salad wraps and smoked chicken salads, and is now selling Tony’s ice cream, including the famous grape flavor. The original smoker that started it all is now used as a backup kitchen.
On any given day, the dining room is full, and often, there are lines that stretch out of the door. To address the growing clientele, Sweetfire has installed a second check out station and is boasting faster food times. While the business is still young, it is going strong and the Therells give credit to the community as well as the cooking.
“We’ve received very good support from the community once we opened,” said David. “We got a really good customer base with the mobile operation.”