Open Roads Smokehouse Entering into Corporate Catering Market

Barbara Kieker

Friday, May 15th, 2015

B.J. Fletcher is getting ready to knock on doors at local businesses with tasting samples from the menu at Open Roads Smokehouse. Opened in January, the restaurant features barbeque, steaks, catfish and other specials prepared fresh daily.

"I'm excited about getting samples out into the corporate catering market. We can match the simplest to the most elite catering packages out there," Fletcher said. 

"Also the restaurant has a quiet, semi-private area that can be reserved free of charge. It seats about 60 and it's been a great spot for teacher-appreciation lunches and other meetings and celebrations." 

Located at 1111 Dawson Road, the restaurant is the latest addition to Fletcher's foodservice operations. She also owns BJ's Country Buffet and Café 230. 

Cooking it fresh

Fletcher lost her sister recently to cancer. During her battle with the disease, Fletcher and her sister vowed to eat better and that vow has carried over to Open Roads.

"Any of our fried menu items can be ordered grilled," Fletcher said. "And I want people to be able to trust what's in our food. If someone asks our wait staff if an item is gluten-free, I want them to be able to answer knowledgeably." 

According to Fletcher, she created the menu around dishes that people asked for: all-you-can-eat catfish, prime rib and a summer vegetable plate. 

"And dishes like liver and onions – believe it or not, we can't keep it in stock. Also fried green tomatoes and fried pickles. No pickle spear is safe in Albany," Fletcher said. 

Service as good as the food

Fletcher is working to ensure the customer service at Open Roads is as good as the food. The first few weeks of operation were a challenge, but Fletcher invites anyone who may have had a bad experience to give it another try.

"Pushing fresh isn't easy. And I find myself screaming in the kitchen to be heard over the blowers – it's almost comical," Fletcher said. 

According to Fletcher, the restaurant team has received many kind words from customers and people have been very open with suggestions. In particular, one loyal customer took issue with the fried okra and Fletcher realized the kitchen staff was in fact preparing it differently than they were instructed. That's been fixed. 

"I've heard people say I had a following in my restaurants but to see the people show up at Open Roads and give us their suggestions - it's really touched my heart," Fletcher said. 

Serving on the City Commission

Fletcher has been a city commissioner for a couple of years, representing Ward III. As a restaurant owner, customers come first, according to Fletcher, and as a city commissioner, taxpayers come first. 

"I treat the commission as a business and I'm aware every day that the taxpayer is footing the bill," Fletcher said.

"I think it's important to understand where the money is going. I try to educate myself and then use that knowledge to educate taxpayers. For example, I've spent endless hours understanding how the Water Gas & Light utility works so that when we get their budget in two weeks, I'll know what I'm looking at." 

Open Roads Smokehouse is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 1111 Dawson Road. For more information, call (229) 436-8151.

About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.