Things have been heating up at 6173 state Highway 12 in Norwich.
Friends and Norwich residents Brett Lorimer and Chet Travis launched Funk-E-BBQ in late April this year.
Lorimer, the 38-year-old owner, said he turned what was previously a hobby into a full-time gig while Travis, Funk-E’s 39-year-old manager, brought the business background.
“I just enjoyed doing barbecue,” Lorimer said. “I’d done graduations and other things, then this opportunity just presented itself.”
“The business was actually created by two partners, not including myself,” Travis said. “So the idea, the real estate and the business planning was started before I was brought into the picture. I came on in February when (one of the original partners) decided he didn’t want to partake and I had just worked as manager at Bill’s Diner here in Norwich, so I had food-service management experience, plus I’d owned two companies prior and was familiar with bookkeeping.”
Though Lorimer and Travis said their cooking does not prescribe to geography-based barbecue styles or schools of thought, customers are enjoying what comes over the counter.
“We mostly smoke everything with applewood (and) hickory,” Lorimer said.
“We learn a little bit every day from all of the different kinds of barbecue out there,” Travis said. “We’ve done a lot of research on our own and we’ve gotten to educate some (customers) that are maybe not that familiar with barbecue. It’s nice seeing people leaving satisfied and … it’s been good to bring a new choice of food to the area.
“We’ve had a comment box out since Day 1 and we encouraged people to get on our Facebook and Yelp and leave reviews,” he said, “so we took a lot of those comments and were able to adjust after we had a good feel for what our customer base was going to be. We had to listen to that and drum up some lower-priced ideas for daily specials and develop something to offer to local businesses that was faster to prep for short lunch breaks. We listened a lot to the community to get an idea of what Norwich likes when they think of barbecue and we’ve adjusted our inventory and meat ordering to meet that.”
Customer favorites, Lorimer and Travis said, include Funk-E’s ribs and pulled pork, the shrimp and tri-tip gumbo special and a smoked meatball sub.
“The ribs are always really good,” Lorimer said. “We use a dry rub and do the sauce on the side, but they fall off the bone.”
“I was amazed to see the pulled-pork sandwich (become) a really big seller,” Travis said. “The way we make it, we don’t over-sauce it and it’s fast to prep. That’s an amazing sandwich and it’s become a go-to.”
Diners, Lorimer and Travis said, represent a mix of locals and passersby.
“When we opened, people were traveling 45-plus minutes just to try it out,” Travis said. “But three-quarters of our business is from right here, within a 10- to 15-mile radius, from Earlville to Greene and anywhere in there.”
“And we get quite a few people from Hamilton,” Lorimer said.
Lorimer and Travis said they hope to make ordering increasingly user-friendly, even bringing their barbecue on the road.
“In the wintertime and after the holidays, we’re already planning to dedicate a lot of time to catering and offering off-site food,” Travis said. “We’re going to get a portable grill and trailer set up, and we plan on adding delivery very soon. We’re noticing a lot of places don’t have long enough lunch breaks or people can’t get to us in a 30-minute lunch break, so we will be offering some form of delivery around lunch for a few hours and around dinner to reach out to more people who can’t make it to us.”
“We just got an enclosed trailer,” Lorimer said. “I think it’s going to be fun getting something mobile and getting out in the community more and doing different events.”
Funk-E-BBQ is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.
For more information, find “Funk-E-BBQ” on Facebook or call 607-373-3084.