It’s not often you will discover an authentic taste of America’s deep south right in the heart of rural Shropshire.
But that’s exactly what’s on offer at one of the county’s newest and most unique restaurants – Smoke Stop. The road to BBQ.
This specialist American Smokehouse which has just opened at Ford, near Shrewsbury, takes its customers on a gastronomic journey right across the pond.
From mouth-watering Hickory smoked ribs, pulled pork, buffalo wings and slaw to peanut butter brownie cheesecake, warm American waffles and root beer floats, plus bucketfuls of fresh popcorn and shakes and sodas, the menu pays true homage to America’s deep south.
Ryan King runs Smoke Stop – once the very quintessentially English country pub Ye Olde Cross Gates Inn owned by his father, the former Shrewsbury Town and Telford United manager Jake King.
And the All American transformation includes two smokers ovens all the way from Memphis, Tennessee.
Mr King, who runs the venue with his girlfriend Sophie Gwilliam, said: “It was previously an old style country pub doing traditional English food, a carvery on a Sunday, so we’ve completely changed it. Now it’s got a real American feel to it and we are thrilled with the results.”
He added: “I love eating with my hands, food like chicken wings, so the inspiration for this has really come from laid back, casual dining. And we’re so glad that we’re the first ones to do American food like this in Shropshire.
“I think our burgers will go down really well with people and also the big ribs, which are smoked for eight hours. They’re cooked low and slow, so they are delicious and tender.
“It’s a great menu and it covers all bases for people, whatever their taste.”
A number of new jobs have been created as part of the venture, said Mr King.
“We’ve got about 15 staff out front of house from bar staff to waiting staff so we’ve created quite a lot of jobs for local people.”
Mr King said he also hoped the venture would mean that his father could take a well-earned breather.
“My dad’s a grafter so now that I am doing this it’s allowing him to take a step back really. I want him to enjoy life a little more instead of slaving away in a kitchen for 80 hours a week.
“I want to do it for him. He has worked very hard all his life, whether in football or through the businesses that he’s had.
“I’m proud in what we’ve achieved here. It’s been tough over the last eight or nine weeks when the work has been carried out and there’s been a few sleepless nights, but it’s been well worth it with the great feedback that we have been getting.”
He added: “We’re only five or six minutes from the Gains Park area and about 10 minutes from the centre of town. It’s only a short journey so we’re hoping lots of people will come from Shrewsbury while we’re also quite close for people from Oswestry, Welshpool, even Telford.
“There’s nothing like this in the area.”
He added: “I just hope people talk about it as a fun place to come. We’re very family friendly and they can come here and have a really good time with some great food. That’s what my dream is.”
Opening hours are noon to 2.30pm for lunch and then between 5pm and 10pm.
For more information about Smoke Stop, call (01743) 851944.
Pictured: Ryan King, manager of Smoke Stop. The road to BBQ, at the newly-opened American Smokehouse at Ford, near Shrewsbury.