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Squealers Authentic BBQ Co. opened a new restaurant on Sunday at the former Sonic location on East Stuart Drive in Galax, beside Sears, to serve up favorites like smoked pork barbecue, beef brisket, chicken, ribs, homemade sides, desserts and breads — and everything in between.
The specialty is the barbecue, with every piece slowly cooked for hours in a large smoker to give it the best flavor possible.
Mark Davis, co-owner, began Squealers Catering in 2006 and opened Squealers Cafe inside the Crossroads Institute a couple of years ago with the intention of branching out into Galax with a restaurant.
Davis will continue Squealers Cafe at Crossroads and his catering service.
“We had to take it up another notch, and we had taken all the proper steps,” said Davis, who got started at the business incubator at Crossroads to get his feet wet in the restaurant business. “People had been wanting Squealers to open a barbecue restaurant.”
When Davis steps out in public, it never fails that someone will ask, “When you going to open a restaurant in town?” — even from people he had never met, he said.
Davis, along with catering partner and friend Cody Cline, compete each year in the Smoke on the Mountain state barbecue championship in Galax and have become an award-winning barbecue team, taking home second place in “Anything Butt” for brisket in 2009 and fourth place in shoulders in the nation. Davis also won second place in ribs in the amateur competition during his first year in the state competition.
“It's an honor to be in the same competition as one of the best barbecue teams in the nation, Natural Born Grillers, but when they come up, give us a hug and say 'You're right there with us,' that means a lot,” said Davis.
“There is a need of great restaurants in Galax, and barbecue is part of our country culture,” said Davis. “This is just one more stop we can add to the list of places to eat” for locals and tourists.
Opening a restaurant in Galax gives Davis the space and equipment that would allow him to offer a variety of smoked meats, including ribs on Fridays and Saturdays.
“We want it to have a bistro feel, but with some fine dining elements,” said Mike Higgins, manager of the restaurant, noting Squealers beer and wine selection and the option to dine outside. The restaurant seats about 70, including indoor, outdoor and picnic areas.
The new restaurant will also offer beer and wine and will be a place where diners can come and watch games on Sunday on the flat-screen televisions.
“We want people to come here and feel like they're being taken care of,” said Davis. “We want them to leave with the best experience possible. I've always loved food and enjoy watching people enjoying a meal.”
Cooking has always been in his blood, said Davis, whose grandfather owned Blue Ridge Grill in downtown Galax for 30 years.
“When I got started in this business, I knew it was something I wanted to do,” he said.
Davis and another investor have been working on opening the restaurant in Galax for almost a year, and Davis feels it is in a prime location.
Squealers will employ 20 people at the restaurant, with most being full-time workers.
Another 10 are employed at the other two businesses.