A nonstop parade of customers to the small barbecue eatery on West Bay Drive is the first sign that it must be smoking.
Smokin' Rib Shack BBQ, at 600 West Bay Dr., east of Clearwater Largo Road, is a family-run business that has made a name for itself by offering big, affordable portions of savory barbecue beef, chicken or pork with a heaping serving of down home hospitality.
Born in Clearwater, Glenn Braxton and cousins Corey Miller and Curtis Luke opened their Largo location in 2003, bringing along a specially blended barbecue sauce recipe handed down by their grandfather, Johnnie Mack.
During those early years they opened other Smokin' Rib Shacks in Clearwater that were successful but just didn’t seem like the perfect spot until they found their Largo home.
Their master plan is to serve mouth-watering barbecue, while keeping their menu simple and affordable, said Braxton, who serves as catering and general manager. Success has been found in the volume of highly-quality and especially meaty ribs and chicken they sell. Their small dining room fills, empties and refills with customers, even during normally slower times of the day for most restaurants. Some diners even buy a serving of ribs and tailgate on the bed of their truck outside the eatery.
Many take home meals for the family or parties, he said. “We have grown by word-of-mouth, because our customers come hungry and leave satisfied with our friendly service and the savings they get on their meals,” he said.
Their big draw is the huge meaty rib dinner, served with a choice of two sides — either baked beans, potato salad, collard greens, or slaw — for $8.75. Other dinners include chicken ($6.75), chopped pork ($7), chopped beef ($7.25), sausage ($6.50) or a combination of two meats for $9.25. A full slab of ribs is $25 with two sides or $20.50 without additions.
A rib sandwich is $7.50, chicken breast $4.75, chopped pork is $5 for a regular or $7.50 for a large portion, with regular beef $5.25 and huge selection $8.
Braxton said this year they “have been blessed with a 25 percent increase in new customers,” which he ascribes to word getting around about their great food. People bring their friends and family, he said. Each year when snowbirds return from up north, many celebrate their first dinner back in Florida with a plate of ribs or chicken.
Their location on Bay Drive is easily seen and very accessible, he said. Future plans are to open a second Smokin' Rib Shack in north Pinellas, perhaps in Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor or Oldsmar, he said.
He said they have customers who come to Smokin' Rib Shack from all around the Tampa Bay area and have catered several big parties. Now they are also offering bottles of their barbecue sauce for sale.
They are open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
If You Go
Smokin' Rib Shack BBQ
600 West Bay Dr.