Steve Averett and Josh Dae of BBQ Island know a thing or two about grilling.
As barbecue competitors and BBQ Island managers, the pair is perfectly positioned to offer tips on what grills to purchase at the stores, and how to cook numerous dishes.
Dae is the manager of the location at 15815 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in Scottsdale, while Averett serves as general manager of that store and one at 8155 W. Bell Road in Peoria.
“I think what sets us apart (from other stores) is that we are all heavily involved in the barbecue community, a far as competitions and the outdoor lifestyle,” Averett said.
“We are all pretty accomplished barbecue chefs. We really use the products that we sell every day in our lives.”
Dae competes in events sponsored by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, a professional sanctioning body.
“They have competitions all over the world,” he said. “We compete locally when they have events. We have competed in New Mexico, Nevada, California.”
Founded in 2002, BBQ Island has a third store at 8425 S. Emerald Drive in Tempe. Scottsdale and Peoria have 6,000-square-foot showrooms, while Tempe boasts a 14,000-square-foot showroom and warehouse. All the stores are locally owned by Mike West.
The company offers 30 premium brands, including Green Mountain grills, Summerset, Twin Eagles, Delta Heat and Kamado Joe. BBQ Island goes beyond that, though, offering project management for a variety of tasks ranging from complete custom kitchen islands to fire pits. Spices, rubs, marinades and sauces, as well as wood pellets/chunks, fire glass/logs and replacement parts are available, too.
“We’ve expanded our lines,” Dae said. “Perlick is a new one. It’s a high-end under-counter outdoor refrigerator company typically seen at Buffalo Wild Wings or Applebee’s. They’re known for their kegerators and taps. We do a lot of business that way.”
Averett said he and his staff discuss goals with customers before suggesting a product or replacement part.
“We get a lot of people who just want a barbecue grill,” he said. “We ask them a lot of questions as far as what they cook, what they like, what they don’t like. What’s helped them out. What have they ruined.
“We go from that point. We point everybody in a different direction, based on what they want to do. If they want to get into smoking and they’re not looking to make it super complicated, we point them toward a pellet smoker. The pellet smoker is really easy. You just load wood pellets into the hopper, set the temperature, put the food in there and let it go.”
Averett said he regularly hears from customers that they failed at barbecuing. He has one bit of advice: Keep it simple.
“People read online recipes,” said Averett, who has been barbecuing since his childhood. “They’re just trying to cook steaks or ribs. It takes them 10 hours to cook something. It doesn’t need to be that complex.”
BBQ Island staff helps customers with their meals by offering free cooking classes. Dae will teach guests how to smoke a turkey at 9 a.m. Saturday, November 11, at the Scottsdale store. Reservations are not required, but the store asks that guests sign up for its mailing list.
“It’ll be done Food Network-style, where you show the prep and then you turn around and show the cooked turkey,” he said. “I’ll provide the details and be here to answer questions. Thanksgiving’s a big family holiday and you don’t want to look silly. The key is to buy a thermometer. Everything is based on temperature, so you want to have a good thermometer.”
Averett and Dae joined BBQ Island after being “tired of the big, corporate rat race.” The two said the staff is a tight-knit group that knew each other before BBQ Island.
“You’re not just dealing with people who were hired off their resume,” Dae said. “It’s a family here.
“Obviously, we need to sell stuff to stay in business. We’re not the type of company that’s only here to sell things, though. We try to treat our customers the way we would want to be sold to. If someone needs a new grill and legitimately needs it, we’ll do it. But we wouldn’t sell a new grill because they need a part. We have three stores, but if one person’s angry with us, that hurts our business.”
8425 S. Emerald Drive, Suite 103, Tempe, 877-474-5669
15815 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, Scottsdale, 480-503-1110
8155 W. Bell Road, Suite 111, Peoria, 480-500-5154