A Smoking Hot Success
In 2011, Wayne Shelnutt had a big idea. He had moved to Colorado and was working in the tech corridor in Northwest Denver, an area he felt had limited food options at the time. Wayne grew up in Austin, Texas, and decided to turn a personal passion into a business, by opening his own high-quality, central Texas-style barbecue restaurant. He focused on finding a location within a 10-mile radius and ultimately chose Brixmor’s Superior Marketplace.
“The space had already been a restaurant, which made it easier to customize for smoking barbecue on site. With convenient parking for customers and room for future growth, I knew it was the right fit,” Wayne notes.
Six years later, Wayne’s Smoke Shack had been voted “Best BBQ in Colorado” by Westword and Thrillist and was drawing customers from around the state. It was time to expand.
“I considered other locations, but Brixmor was willing to make an investment in me.” Wayne took the space adjacent to the original restaurant and doubled in size. “We’ve added amenities like community tables. We have more indoor and outdoor space for people to relax and hang out, and for us to cook and grow.”
Wayne speaks highly of Gavin Gray, Senior Leasing Agent at Brixmor. “Gavin saw our potential, and the connection we’ve built with the community, and fought for me.”
Gavin agrees. “It’s a true partnership on both sides. Wayne was a start-up, a real entrepreneur. A lot of restaurants don’t succeed. By the second year, he was known as some of the best barbecue in Colorado.” Gavin adds that Wayne’s Smoke Shack is a good match with Brixmor’s vision, because it is active in and relevant to the local community. “When Wayne’s Smoke Shack needed to grow, we were willing to do whatever we could to help.”
That included timing the build-out for a period when Wayne’s business was traditionally slower. “We structured the down time to happen over the holidays, to minimize the impact on his business. We also let Wayne do what he does best, building it out the way he wanted. It’s a very welcoming place.”
Wayne is considering expanding his business again in the future, possibly with a series of smaller taco shacks featuring his signature barbecued meats. “But there will always be only one Wayne’s Smoke Shack and all of our barbecued meats will come from there. I still do most of the smoking. I love it so much, I’m always at work by 4am.”