Ben Hoffman said his family has been cooking barbeque as long as he can remember.
The Westfield resident works as a media and advertising executive, and he recently opened Ben’s BBQ Shack at 124 E. Main St. in downtown Westfield.
“When I started getting into it heavy, it was about 22 or 23 years ago with my own cooker and really thinking about it as a smoked meat,” Hoffman said.
In 2005, Hoffman formed a small business and cooked for neighborhoods, churches and charitable events in central Kentucky. In 2007, he began competing in competitions in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio with friends under the name Country Boys BBQ.
“I remember thinking, ‘You know what? I’m going to cook in these until I get a Top 10 finish,’” he said.
That happened in 2012, when he finished in the Top 10 at the Jim Beam Classic in Springfield, Ky., for ribs.
After that, Hoffman began selling barbeque out of his trailer when he moved to Westfield nine years ago. When Grand Junction Brewing Co. opened, he formed a working relationship with the brewery. He occasionally set up his barbeque trailer at the brewery but stopped in the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February, the advertising business plummeted.
“When everything got shut down, (Grand Junction owner) Jon (Knight) wanted me to be here three days a week,” Hoffman said. “Then, the property (on Main Street) became available and I did that deal in May.”
He opened Ben’s BBQ Shack in September.
Hoffman is familiar with working in tight spaces because he’s operated his business from a trailer, which proved useful when he purchased the property on Main Street. His new building is only 300 square feet.
Hoffman transformed the building into a prep kitchen with a service window. His trailer is parked outside, where he cooks. Picnic tables and canopies provide outdoor seating behind the building.
Ben’s BBQ Shack is only open from noon to 3 p.m. Friday and 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, or until the barbeque sells out. So far, its sold out every day he’s been open.
“I love it, man,” he said. “I get so happy and smiley. I lived in a world that was so fast-paced and so high energy, and there’s something really old school and calm about smoking meat.”
Hoffman cooks with hickory and cherry wood.
“There’s no propane, no gas assist, no electric gadgets, no commercial cooking apparatus to it,” he said. “I do it pretty much the hardest way there is to do it. I’m there all night long the night before on-site.”
Despite his product’s popularity, Hoffman isn’t sure if he’ll expand operating hours.
“I’ve dealt with thousands of businesses in my career, and one of the biggest mistakes I see made by the business is, they start way too big and overextend themselves,” Hoffman said. “I believe in starting as small as you possibly can and growing as the business tells you what to do.”
Hoffman is married to Angela, who is a co-owner of the business and works for the Westfield Washington Schools district. They have three kids – a son and two daughters, all of whom graduated from Westfield High School.
For more, visit bensbbqshack.com.