What started as a way to get by after Georgia Boys BBQ owners Nickolas Reckinger and Matt Alexander got laid off at the tailend of the U.S. recession, turned into a popular eatery. After more than a decade of selling smoked meats and southern staples, the two Longmont transplants are looking at growing the Georgia Boys brand.
Reckinger and Alexander have been friends since they were fraternity brothers at University of West Georgia. One of their favorite activities was going to different BBQ joints. After going their separate ways after school, Reckinger and Alexander’s paths crossed again when they both got jobs in the Boulder County area, and decided to room together around late 2008.
In 2010, Alexander and Reckinger were laid off just a couple weeks apart. Already having their Epic Passes for the skiing season, they decided to stay in Colorado. They returned to their Georgia-roots and started smoking BBQ meats out of their Boulder apartment complex and started a brown bag delivery service.
After local breweries let the Georgia Boys BBQ set up booths, the Boulder County Health Department told them that they needed to become an official business. The BBQ joint’s first location opened up at 237 Collyer St, a small converted 110-year old house in Longmont which now is Summit Tacos. They referred to the original location as “The Shack,”
Reckinger said they spent their entire savings, with some investment from family, — $16,000 — on opening the business.
“We spent every dime of it, spending the last 400 bucks on food for that opening day, which was July 1, 2011,” Reckinger said.
The original location was a takeout establishment. On the first day of opening, Georgia Boys BBQ sold out of food within three hours and growth hasn’t slowed since.
The first week, they borrowed a single picnic table. By the next week they had enough to purchase their own, and eventually filled the front yard with tables. Alexander said the first couple years, they bootstrapped what they could.
“Our first year or two, was just constant stories of, you know, overcoming and continuing to grow,” he said.
In January 2014, Georgia Boys BBQ expanded into Frederick with its second location at 141 Fifth St. Later, they moved the Longmont location to 250 Third Ave. in 2017. Though the upgrade is significantly larger than the old house at 5,000 square feet, Alexander and Reckinger and longtime regulars still call it the Shack.
The BBQ business grew from two guys from Georgia to a staff of more than 100 people. About five years ago, Alexander said they are proud that they can offer benefits to all their employees including health and dental insurance, a 401k plan and paid vacation for staff working 30 hours a week . Part-time staff still qualify for vacation time.
“I'm really proud of it. It became a provider for us and the original spot, but since then, we take great pride in being a provider for the rest of the community, and our team members,” Reckinger added. “Because there's a lot of lives involved in this now. It's not just Matt and I, it's 100 other people helping bring the food to the table.”
Georgia Boys BBQ continues to bring southern cooking to Colorado, with plans for a third location at the former Rudy's "Country Store" and Bar-B-Q in Greeley. The estimated opening for Greeley is late fall or early winter.
Reckinger and Alexander’s original goal was to introduce the cooking they loved from Georgia and “southern hospitality.” Reckinger said southern hospitality for customers means welcoming them as if they are a guest in their home. But it also means not taking shortcuts in the kitchen and making food with plenty of flavor and love. Reckinger and Alexander aren’t classically trained chefs, but learned about cooking living in Georgia. All recipes are original or from their families including the sweet potato casserole and banana pudding.
Now that they see their mission being accomplished, they are looking at growing the Georgia Boys brand beyond BBQ.
“We just wanted to be great barbecue and offer the best barbecue we could to the community, but I think we've sort of hit that goal,” Alexander said. “And now it's time for us to really start thinking about what the future holds for us. How that all intertwines with our customers, with ourselves and with our staff.”
Reckinger and Alexander wanted to provide a way for staff to move up the ladder without turning Georgia Boys into a franchise restaurant business. They envision a “community of businesses” where they work with managing partners on different business concepts.
They already started making moves on this goal, starting a refrigeration and HVAC company Georgia Boys Commercial Services with a friend of Reckinger and Alexander’s from Georgia. They are also working towards a USDA Certified Meat plant with a previous general manager for the restaurant.
“We want to help our ambitious employees, entrepreneurial spirited ones, to have a path towards success,” Reckinger said. “Because not everybody is going to be a kitchen manager or a general manager. It could be a business concept we haven't thought of, but if they got wheels to it, then heck yeah. Let's make it a reality.”