Belleville News Democrat – Smokin’s K’s Prize-Winning BBQ Comes to Millstadt
By Suzanne Boyle
When it came time to decorate the interior of Smokin K’s BBQ & More in Millstadt, Dennis and Cindy Keck had no problem filling the restaurant’s walls, shelves, nooks and crannies with trophies and plaques won over the past three years.
Feeding their customers has put a crimp on adding to the collection, though.
“We’ve been so busy this year that we’ve had to cut back,” Dennis said of traveling to contests. “We did eight competitions this year. We did one at the Casino Queen and took first in chicken and third overall. … Just before we opened, we won grand champion in Marion.”
Opened in July 2013, the restaurant offers classic smoked meat, from pulled pork and chicken, ribs, rib tips, pastrami and brisket, to their signature Gigantic Pork Steak ($12.99 for an 18- to 28-ounce cut with two sides). The Grilled Turkey Melt is smoked turkey with bacon, Swiss cheese and mayonnaise on sourdough for $8.50. A slider trio, with pulled pork, brisket and pastrami is $8.25. All “Fresh From the Pit” menu items come with two sides, while sandwiches and wraps come with one side. A lunch special is typically $7.99. All barbecue is sauced or dry-rubbed.
What you are served is the same award-winning marinade and sauce Dennis and Cindy use when competing.
He calls the sauce “sweet with a bite.” And there’s just the one choice on the table. “I don’t believe in a lot of sauces.”
The “More” part of the restaurant’s name means just that: a new salad bar, starters like BBQ Pulled Pork or Chicken Nachos ($7.99), breakfast on weekends, a Sunday breakfast buffet ($10), a full bar, lobster and steak specials on Friday and Saturday nights, and Smokin K’s Pit Burgers.
They started serving the grilled, half-pound Angus burgers about eight months ago. A Smokin K’s Pit Cheeseburger and side is $7.99.
“They’re fast becoming a favorite,” said Cindy of the handmade patties.
Dennis has just concocted a new one to add to the menu: D’s Ultimate Cheeseburger with Swiss, American and goat cheese topped with bacon.
“I can’t keep from smiling, it’s so good,” said Randee Rittmeyer, of Belleville. She and her husband Stan volunteered to taste-test the new burger.
Also, the Kecks on Dec. 1 took over Emma’s Video Gaming Cafe, which is now located in the side wing of the restaurant behind a half-wall.
Their other business, Keck Jewelers, is in the same mall.
Dennis works there as well, but admits he spends more time at the restaurant, where he tends to the smoker and grill. Cindy runs the operation, too, and two of their three children work there.
“It’s a family-owned business and I want them involved,” Cindy said.
Smokin’ K’s BBQ & More
What: Barbecue restaurant, weekend breakfast, catering, bulk purchases, carryouts, full bar, separate video gaming area
Location: Millstadt Plaza, 548 E. Washington St., Millstadt
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; to 8 p.m. Sundays
Handicapped access: Yes