Local family carries on their father’s BBQ legacy

With temperatures rising and summer right around the corner, you’re going to need a new spot for BBQs, picnics, and post-Cedar Point snacks. Tucked away on Portland Road sits one of Sandusky’s hidden gems: Snooties BBQ.

What is it: The family-owned and operated Snooties BBQ is a food truck that specializes in hickory-smoked ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, and an array of homemade sides including mac n cheese, creamy coleslaw, and smoked baked beans.

Co-owner Janet Studer shows off chicken ready for customers at Snooties BBQ. (Photo/Courtesy of Snooties BBQ)History of the business: Snooties first started popping up at markets, gas stations, and festivals in 2009 when Dennis Studer, Beth Smith, Joe Hire, and Janet Studer became the four founding pit masters. 

Today, Dennis’ daughter, Janet, runs the truck with her partner, Joe. She recalls how her father’s love of cooking brought their family together.

“He had always done BBQ for as long as I can remember,” Janet says. “He would smoke a whole hog in the ground, and would build his own wood-burning put up around it for any and every family event.”

Dennis died in 2010, leaving Snooties to Janet and Joe. The two, while devastated, were happy to take on the challenge. 

“We just couldn’t see it go after helping from the beginning,” Janet says.

Dennis was a beloved member of the community who cared deeply for the people in his life and put his all into creating a space where he could bring everyone together over a meal, Janet says. Janet and Joe are able to keep that memory alive, not only with Dennis’ recipes smoked to perfection, but also with their crew. 

What’s next: While Snooties moved around quite a bit in its initial months, Janet and Joe are looking to put down roots. After trying out a few different spaces, Snooties landed at its original site, the Strawberry Hill gas station. The owner, a friend of Dennis’, let the crew use the space free of charge up until he sold the lot. After 11 years there, the Snooties family decided that it was time to move on.Co-owner Joe Hire prepares ribs at the Snooties BBQ location on Portland Road. (Photo/Courtesy of Snooties BBQ)

The Snooties staff came across their current home on Portland Road after one of the Strawberry Hill neighbors (and loyal Snooties friend and customer) encouraged them to build a restaurant on his plot. Janet and Joe have since transformed the land from a residence to the commercial lot that currently houses the Snooties truck.

Janet and Joe have plans to expand Snooties BBQ into their dream brick-and-mortar restaurant, but they will continue to set up seasonally until that day comes. 

“We have worked with a few architects to put our blueprint ideas on paper and get guestimate prices,” Janet says. “I also became a certified Women’s Business Enterprise last year in 2022 in hopes of finding funding. Once the funding is found, we hopefully will be on the road to building.”

For information on Snooties BBQ, visit the business Facebook Page, website, or the food truck itself at 7312 Portland Road.