Crawley mobile barbecue formed amid the pandemic and redundancies thrives into growing business

A mobile barbecue restaurant in Crawley, formed amid the backdrop of the pandemic and redundancies, has thrived into a growing business.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 2:14 pm

Wide & Narrow Smokehouse, based at Crawley Rugby Club, was founded last year by pitmaster Colin Marshall, managing director Jermaine Weeden, and operations director Graham McDonnell.

Both Colin and Graham were made redundant during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the pair, along with Jermaine, pooled their lifelong love of barbecue food into the creation of the business.

The trio purchased an Airstream trailer, and several barbecue smokers, and hit the road.

Graham McDonnell (right) is one of the founders of mobile barbecue restaurant Wide & Narrow Smokehouse. Pictures courtesy of Colin Marshall
Graham McDonnell (right) is one of the founders of mobile barbecue restaurant Wide & Narrow Smokehouse. Pictures courtesy of Colin Marshall

Graham said: “We started when two of us were made redundant as a result of the first lockdown.

“Hospitality was hit hard. We saw an opportunity to start something local at first to share our passion for traditional barbecue food.

“The three of us played with some ideas we had all had separately and it all came together.

“We have a smoke truck and trailer that visits areas where there are very few offerings for deliveries and takeaways.

The Wide & Narrow Smokehouse smoke truck

“We have also taken several bookings for private parties, weddings and festivals.

“We ran a delivery service over the winter that we’ve temporarily suspended whilst we are focused on our other bookings.”

As demand grew, Wide & Narrow Smokehouse began employing people whose jobs had also been impacted by the pandemic.

Graham added: “We are all family orientated. We needed to provide for them so our goal was to earn a living in a market that was decimated by the pandemic.

“As we got busier and the offering grew we needed to hire others.

“We decided to hire others that had been also affected and we now have 12 staff. They all lost their jobs as we had.”

Wide & Narrow Smokehouse attained a coveted five star rating from the Environmental Health Office in September 2020.

Graham said: “Gaining five stars for the business is crucial. It acknowledges our commitment and compliance with all things food safety related.

“It shows our customers that not only do we strive to give them the best possible experience, we do it in a manner that is in accordance with Food Safety Law.

“On a personal level it gives me and the team great satisfaction, having been in three kitchens this past year and gained five stars in all of them.”

Wide & Narrow Smokehouse have recently set up shop in Broadbridge Heath, and have also visited Ashington and Turners Hill.

The company currently has their sights set on expanding their business, as well as maintaining their pre-existing services.

Graham added: “Our latest venture is a permanent residency at The Shelley Arms in Broadbridge Heath. We were very well received when we visited that area and the opportunity to set up a Smokehouse was too good to refuse.

“This gives us scope to deliver the full Wide & Narrow experience in a warm, cosy environment where all the family can relax and enjoy our food.

“We see an opportunity to expand to other areas and to diversify our offering depending on how we are received, such as taking the smoke truck to new areas offering an alternative for customers with limited choice.

“Our delivery service was very popular and we are looking to improve that offering to include additional items not available from our smoke truck.

“We are already in discussions regarding our second restaurant, this is where we see the largest opportunity for growth.”