With the news that Charleston-based meats empire Home Team BBQ will expand to Aspen, Colorado, the restaurant will have four stores total after ten years in business. How did they get here? Tons of hard work and tons of addictive smoked wings. The original location started in West Ashley, when chief operating partner/pitmaster Aaron Siegel had a vision for quick service barbecue restaurant in the Lowcountry. Siegel says there wasn’t much research into the space — a friend offered it, and he jumped on the opportunity. Operating partner/executive chef Taylor Garrigan and operating partner/pitmaster Madison Ruckel joined Siegel to help bring Home Team to life.
“I didn’t know exactly what I was doing at the time, but it was a lot of learning on the fly. ” says Siegel. The partners were scheduling themselves to work six days a week. They worked at a hectic pace.
The pulled pork sandwiches quickly became popular among carnivores. The now-famous wings weren’t even on the menu until the Sullivan’s Island store opened in 2009. Other than the food, Siegel and Ruckel credit the camaraderie among the employees as a reason for their success. “We’ve just been building lives around this place. There’s been babies born, rings put on fingers, rings not on fingers, and all that good stuff. It was just an idea I had. This was the way I wanted to live my life. I didn’t want the rat race of the high end white tablecloth restaurant,” says Siegel, “I guess it was my thing, but it’s turned into everybody’s thing.”
On top of killer smoked meats and a good working environment, bands have played a big role at Home Team. Ruckel and Siegel actually met at a Widespread Panic concert. “Music was a common thread, it always has been,” says Siegel. The restaurant has hosted numerous bands over the years in all their spaces. “We’ve employed a lot of local musicians. Our customers have become our employees over the years. We have a lot of ties to the local music community,” states Siegel.
Today, Home Team has gone from one smoker and 99 seats to seven smokers and 400 seats — with more on the way. Celebrate with the restaurant this Saturday, November 19 from noon until 6:00 p.m., with a big block party at its downtown Williman Street store. The party includes live music from American Aquarium, Junkyard Angel, the Home Team all-stars featuring Elise Testone, and many other special guests. Food stations will be on hand with signature dishes available for purchase — think pulled pork sandwiches, wings, pork skins with pimento cheese, boudin balls, and more. And most importantly, Gamechangers will be served in a special commemorative cup. The event is free and open to the public to attend.