By Steve Barrett
Creative content writer for Hilltop Packs
For Troy Hellen, operating his successful business has been a true family affair.
Over the past 20 months, Hellen has been working with his wife, Lori, and their daughter and son-in-law, Jenna and Jason Perkins, to offer What’s Smokin’ BBQ, a popular mobile restaurant serving a nice variety of tasty sandwiches and other goodies that explode with delicious barbeque flavor.
And although Troy’s son and daughter-in-law, Josh and Shanda Hellen, who currently reside in Colorado, are not actively involved in working the trailer, they have been crucial behind the scenes developing the menu layout and logo and catering spreadsheets for the business.
Troy started the business with his family on Sept. 26, 2020, and, despite concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it didn’t take long for What’s Smokin’ BBQ to make an impact.
“This has been a family business since the very beginning, and it’s been incredible to see how the business has grown in such a short period of time,” Troy said. “From our humble beginnings, we have seen more and more interest in what we have to offer, and that’s very exciting.”
What’s Smokin’ BBQ offers a variety of items on its menu, including brisket, smoked burgers, baby back ribs (half and full rack), pulled pork and pulled chicken. Troy said all of the meats are smoked low and slow, using a variety of wood to enhance flavor. They also offer meat sold by the pound.
The certified mobile food trailer also offers quesadillas with either pork or chicken, pulled pork nachos, smoked mac n’ cheese, green and baked beans and homemade slaw.
The burgers, which are very popular, offer a half-pound patty topped with either smoked pulled pork or brisket, as well as slaw, pickles, American cheese, crispy onions and What’s Smokin’ original BBQ sauce on a grilled brioche bun.
“We make our own sauces and sides, and our meat is never frozen,” Troy said. “The smoked mac n’ cheese is from my wife’s personal recipe, and our macaroni salad is made from a special 50-year-old recipe given to us by my mother-in-law. When we say the business is a proud family affair, we mean it.”
Troy’s path to What’s Smokin’ BBQ is admittedly an unconventional one. He spent 25 years working in retail, followed by employment with Consol Energy. He admits that he always had a passion for BBQ cooking, which is why he registered the company’s business name a dozen years ago.
“I always liked ‘What’s Smokin’ BBQ’ for a business name,” he said with a smile. “I remember smoking meat on the grill at home for my family and friends and someone would always say, ‘Hey, what’s smokin’?’ The name stuck with me. I always figured I’d use it someday for a business.”
As for business, it’s definitely smokin’. From May through December 2020, Troy had eight offers to bring the trailer to area businesses. Since May 2021, the company has been averaging three stops per week, with almost 100 stops in the books … and counting.
The business started with pulled pork and brisket and gradually expanded to include burgers, quesadillas, nachos and other items, and Troy said they are always looking to come up with new and exciting additions to the menu.
“Our goal has always been to offer quality food at a reasonable price,” he said. “The pulled pork has always been popular, and folks seem to enjoy the other goodies that we have to offer. And I can proudly say that our burgers are making a name for themselves.”
The business offers call-ahead ordering and pick-up.
What’s Smokin’ BBQ is completely mobile and is able to set up roadside outside most business locations in the areas of Washington and Greene counties and Morgantown, West Virginia.
Any businesses interested in booking What’s Smokin’ BBQ to visit their location can call them at 724-825-6526. More information, including their location schedule, can also be found on their website, WhatsSmokinBBQ.com, on their Facebook page and on Instagram.