Food & Drink

Sugarfire to open barbecue restaurant in Edwardsville, joining O’Fallon in metro-east

Take a look inside the new Sugarfire Smoke House restaurant in O’Fallon

The owner of Sugarfire Smoke House in O'Fallon gives a tour of the restaurant shortly after its opening at 1425 Green Mount Road in O’Fallon in this video from April of 2018.
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The owner of Sugarfire Smoke House in O'Fallon gives a tour of the restaurant shortly after its opening at 1425 Green Mount Road in O’Fallon in this video from April of 2018.

Sugarfire Smoke House will open its 13th location on June 5, becoming the first tenant in Edwardsville’s new Ironworks strip mall.

It will join the St. Louis-based restaurant chain’s establishment in O’Fallon as the only ones in the metro-east.

Sugarfire is known for its barbecue beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, signature sandwiches and sides, according to a press release. It also serves daily specials with locally grown produce and meats that are announced on social media each morning, as well as salads, housemade cookies and pies, local craft beers and milkshakes.

“Edwardsville is such a great town, and it continues to grow,” said Matt Martin, co-owner of the franchise, north of Planet Fitness. “The people around town are so nice and genuine, from the locals to the university staff. We have felt so welcomed since exploring for locations.”

The restaurant will be known as “Sugarfire Eddy.” It will seat about 85 people inside and another 40 on the patio, which will allow “open ordering” with neighbor Global Brew and feature TVs, music and cornhole boards.

The strip mall also will be home to Strange Donuts and Chicken Salad Chick.

“Our group could not be more eager to open our doors to the people in Edwardsville,” said Doug Lang, co-owner of Sugarfire’s franchise location. “The community has a great buzz to it and is only a short skip away from our roots in St. Louis.”

Sugarfire was founded by Charlie and Carolyn Downs and chef Mike Johnson, who opened their first restaurant in 2012 in downtown St. Louis.

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Sugarfire Smoke House specializes in barbecue, including pulled-pork sandwiches. The St. Louis-based restaurant chain will open a new location in Edwardsville on June 5. Green Olive Media

Johnson has trained with Food network celebrity, restauranteur and cookbook author Emeril Lagasse; competed in barbecue competitions all over the world; appeared on national TV shows; and recently worked with Budweiser to set a Guinness world record for most people grilling simultaneously.

“(Johnson) created Sugarfire’s menu to reflect a variety of barbecue styles, techniques and influences found throughout the United States,” according to the press release.

Johnson and the Downses quickly expanded with other locations before the company began offering franchises in 2014. Today, the chain has eight restaurants in Missouri, one in Indiana, one in Kentucky, one in Colorado and one in O’Fallon. It also has racked up a long list of awards.

Mike Johnson.jpeg
Co-founding chef Mike Johnson created the Sugarfire Smoke House menu, reflecting barbecue styles, techniques and influences from throughout the United States. Green Olive Media

The Edwardsville location will open at 11 a.m. June 5 at 2323 Plum Street, Suite 100. Inside the door is a 360-degree, “shake and beer” bar, constructed from a shipping container, where customers can get beer, shakes, sodas and other drinks prior to entering an “ordering queue.”

Seating consists of high and low benches, stools and chairs. People in larger groups can sit at long, community-style tables or eight-person booths crafted by Next Level Metal and outfitted with personal, 27-inch TV sets.

“Typical to the brand, glass mosaic flames by local artist Red Keel, hand-painted signage by Phil Jarvis and reclaimed materials from St. Louis’ Reclaim Renew will make an appearance throughout, paying homage to the overall ‘sugar and fire’ theme,” according to the press release.

“Furthermore, a life-size bucking bull, hand-painted by Jarvis to resemble a tiger (Edwardsville’s sports mascot) and appropriately named ‘Eddy,’ stands tall atop the bar in the dining room. Setting it apart from other interiors is a floor to ceiling ‘Drip Wall’ abstract commissioned by Kentucky artist Ami Beckman.”

Illinois native Rob Range will serve as executive chef in Edwardsville, coming from the Sugarfire location in Valley Park, Missouri. He will be joined by sous chef Jeff Riggle, front-of-house staff leader Zachary Johnson, previously of Tin Roof and the Fabulous Fox Theatre; and pastry chef Tyrone Walls, of Edwardsville.

Hours at Sugarfire will be 11 a.m. until the barbecue is sold out, seven days a week. On opening day, Johnson will greet customers, and people will have a chance to win a Yedi cooler full of Sugarfire swag, barbecue products and gift cards.