The sweet smell of burnt wood chips and barbecue sauce wafts through the building that once housed Downtown Diner.
Sweet Smoke Barbecue opened May 1 at 129 E. High St. After two months of working on the project, owner John Biggs said he's happy with how the restaurant is working out.
"It's been hard, but it's going well," Biggs said. "We've had a line out the door every day at lunch."
A Lake of the Ozarks area native, Biggs previously served as executive chef at a handful of hotels and resorts. He learned to cook barbecue while working at a lake area restaurant during high school.
Sweet Smoke smokes meats for its sandwiches and plates each day in a smoker inside the restaurant. The small menu highlights barbecue staples like brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends and smoked sausage. Specialty items like pulled pork nachos, chicken tacos and a grilled salmon sandwich round out the menu.
Barbecue can be hard to perfect, Biggs said. He just hopes he can make food people enjoy.
"It's not hard to screw it up," he said. "A little too long or not long enough makes it not good."
Biggs bought Downtown Diner from former owner Rachel Gibson in March. In April, he cut the space in half, moving the diner into an adjoining stall at 127 E. High St.
The green and orange tiling and tables that once adorned the spaces are long gone, replaced by classic signage and a bar in the barbecue restaurant and a pop culture-themed mural in the diner.
Biggs' girlfriend, Lila Backes, is a partner in the business, so he's committed for the long haul, he said. At both restaurants, Biggs simply plans to keep making hearty food.
"All the stuff I make, it's stuff I like," he said.
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