New owner takes over Smokehouse

  • Bryan Lewis is the new owner of Highlands Smokehouse.
    Bryan Lewis is the new owner of Highlands Smokehouse.

After being open for a little over a year, Highlands Smokehouse has been sold.

New ownership took over management of the barbecue restaurant last week, according to partner and former restaurant general manager Tom Goldacker.

“Bryan Lewis is an awesome guy,” Goldacker said. “He is well adapted and knows what he’s doing with barbecue. He’s going to turn a gold mine into a diamond mine.”

Goldacker, along with partners J.T. Fields and Don Reynolds opened the Highlands Smokehouse restaurant in 2019.

The restaurant, located just north of town on Franklin Road, became the first full-time barbecue restaurant in Highlands in nearly two years. 

Goldacker said the time was right to move on. He wanted to spend more time with his family.

“If you’ve never worked in a restaurant you don’t know anything about a restaurant,” he said. “I found myself there from eight in the morning until ten at night.”

Goldacker said he was the right guy for the Smokehouse at the right time. 

“I saw this as an opportunity to help build the business,” he said. “We had the right people in the kitchen, a good menu and a great staff, I have two boys, 13 and 11, who I need to spend more time with.”

Goldacker said they’d been in talks with Lewis about the Smokehouse restaurant for several months. 

“We did a lot of searching and we found the perfect guy,” he said. “He’s moved up here and brought his family. This is going to be a nice family operation.”

Lewis is ready to get going, having taken over the restaurant operations last week. There are a lot of things that will remain the same, and some things that will be added or tweaked. 

“I’ve been up here in the mountains full-time since March,” he said. “We’re going to expand the outside deck and turn it into something of a beer garden. I’m really good at tweaking a menu, fine tuning things and improving on recipes.”

The restaurant name will remain the same, but with a new logo. Inside, the dining room and bar will be redesigned to provide some atmosphere and décor.

Lewis, who comes to Highlands by way of 11 years in Charleston and a couple years in Atlanta, has a background in barbecue, having cooked barbecue since he was 14. 

“I’ve cooked comfort food and I’ve done fine dining,” he said. “I find barbecue really interesting.”

After leaving Charleston, Lewis helped open the Garden and Gun Club in the Atlanta Battery at Truist Park for Garden and Gun magazine. 

“It is in a great location in the Battery,” he said. “Not so much this year with no ball games, but it is a really nice restaurant that brings the Garden and Gun magazine experience to Atlanta.”

When building owners Fields and Reynolds approached Lewis about taking over the Smokehouse, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I wanted out of the heat of the coast and the cooler climate of the mountains,” he said. “This is a great place to be right now.”

Lewis added, another big addition coming to the Highlands Smokehouse is a catering menu. 

“Barbecue is great for catering and catering is big up here,” Lewis said. “We will have a full catering menu.”

Hours will remain the same, Lewis said. 

Closed on Tuesdays, hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.  – 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m . – 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. 

“Bryan is the ideal owner/ operator for Highlands Smokehouse,” Fields said. “He brings restaurant experience and his love of BBQ- and good food in general. I am looking forward to watching him take it to the next level.”