Sadly, one of Victoria’s finest BBQ joints, Smoken Bones, shut their doors a couple of months ago (see Times Colonist June 25, 2014) . This is a rather sad story, particularly as I really do love good, authentic BBQ and Smoken Bones was darned good at serving it up at a great price. However, the real story here is that if you want to chase your dreams in the hospitality business in Victoria you really have to know your stuff. Good food will go a long way, however, staff, management, and location are vital to your success.
I recall my fist visit to Smoken Bones and thought to myself, “WOW, this place is gorgeous but man the location on the northern fringe of the downtown core is gonna be a tough draw for these guys. Additionally, the opulent design and massive amount of $$ dropped on building this place seems INSANE for a BBQ join!” Now I’ve been to BBQ joints before in places like Orlando, New Orleans, Biloxi Mississippi, and West Texas and trust me, you don’t need fancy for BBQ – even in stuffy, conservative Victoria! Smoken Bones also suffered from a blazing, blinding sun issue that really seemed to annoy customers and staff.. the setting sun at prime dinner hours (6-8 PM) would blaze into the windows and create a hot, uncomfortable atmosphere with all the folks inside covering eyes and seeking shade… I recall eating fast so I could get out of there once!
The business was risky and sadly that has taken its toll. Perhaps starting off in the Victoria core with a food truck would have been a much smarter way for owner Ken Hueston to break into the “Big City”, after all, good BBQ and food trucks really do go hand in hand – ever watched the Great Food Truck Race?? And so, I guess this is a lesson to all that ever want to launch their own restaurant, bar, or ?? in Victoria… do loads of research and like building a house, don’t bit off more than you can chew. I would also suggest you heavily invest in location-based marketing and social media promotion well in advance of launch. Sorry to see you leave Smoken Bones…
Note: According to the Smoken Bones website a new owner and changes are on the way – look for the name Flavurs “an artisan kitchen”