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Holy Smoke BBQ

Story and photos by Constance Smith

You might have noticed some changes to a long-existing restaurant location along Highway 31 here in Hartselle. In January, Holy Smoke BBQ moved from the southern edge of Hartselle to right in the middle of all the bustling activity.

Junior Hyatt started his adventure in barbecue with a homemade smoker he built on an old boat trailer. He began selling barbecue from that trailer, food truck style, and it was such a hit that after six months, he opened a physical restaurant in the Jones Chapel area of Cullman.

In 2013 he opened the Holy Smoke BBQ restaurant in south Hartselle, and it has been operating in Hartselle ever since.

Junior started the restaurant to give him more time with his family, and today it continues to be a family affair. The restaurant is now run by his sons, Brad and Bart, and Bart’s wife, Jackie. The baked beans and slaw recipes were passed down from their grandmothers, and everything that is done there is an expression of their love of that heritage.

Brad said his family feels incredibly lucky to be able to do a job they love – and to be able to do it with the people who mean the most to them.

In addition to the family, Holy Smoke BBQ has several teenage employees. Brad said someone’s first job should teach them responsibility but also be fun, and their young employees work hard. The restaurant has had little turnover among the young staff, but many of them are seniors this year and will be heading off to college in the fall. It will be time to bring in the next generation of young employees.

Brad said moving to the new location was a whirlwind over the holiday break. It’s always a challenge moving into a new location and developing a new routine, adapting to a whole new environment. One of the challenges, he noted, was adjusting to a location with a drive-up window, which was something their previous location did not have. It is convenient for people with mobility issues, or a mother with young children in tow, to not have to get out of their vehicle to get some takeout.

While they do have the drive-up window, the Hyatts stress this is not fast food – it’s good food!

Hartselle residents seem to agree that, indeed, Holy Smoke BBQ is good food. The restaurant has a variety of offerings, from ribs to pulled pork, but if you are looking for chicken wings or brisket, you will want to go early. Everything Holy Smoke BBQ offers is made daily, and when it’s gone, it’s gone!

While the location has changed, some things have never changed. It is still all about family, great food and meats that are smoked in that same, homemade smoker that once traveled on a boat trailer.

Holy Smoke BBQ is located 900 Highway 31 NW, Hartselle.