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American Heroes Smokehouse
BACKYARD BBQ WITH A MISSION
BY MICHELLE LASSLE | PHOTOS BY RON ESSEX PHOTOGRAPHY

The Danberry family has served in every American War since the Revolutionary War, and that includes Ed Danberry who served in the Army. After leaving the service, Ed joined the working world where he eventually rose to the top as CEO of his own company. When he was finished giving his time to Corporate America, Ed decided to start a passion project to give back to those who served our country. However, he had no idea that a little backyard BBQ would expand into something much bigger.

American Heroes Smokehouse started in Scotch Plains, New Jersey when Ed noticed that there weren’t many options for good BBQ comfort food. So, he took matters into his own hands and decided to provide the community with high quality, deliciously smoked meats and sides while also honoring military veterans. “The business model is to give back to those who served with twenty percent off for veterans and military, as well as ten percent off for emergency responders,” said kitchen manager Aaron Lockhart, who helped open up the first location. The smokehouse was so successful that after one year they opened up a second location in Randolph, New Jersey. “We’ve always been pretty busy,” said Aaron. “We did a lot of events with the local VA, like smoking a pig outside and having busloads of veterans come eat for free, so we created a strong community connection. People loved it.”
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The love for American Heroes Smokehouse was so strong that a third location opened up in Wayne, New Jersey, followed by their newest Brentwood location, which celebrated its one year anniversary on April 2. Aaron and his wife Lauren (who is the manager), both whom are actually from California, moved back to the golden state to open the Brentwood location along with Ed’s son Ethan who is a local resident. Ethan’s wife Joanne also helps with the restaurant. Word has spread of the smokehouse’s tasty BBQ, bringing visitors from all over. “We get people from Oakland, Harrison, and other Bay Area cities, as well as people who are visiting from Alabama, St. Louis, and other states who have a love for BBQ.”

The Danberry family has served in every American War since the Revolutionary War, and that includes Ed Danberry who served in the Army. After leaving the service, Ed joined the working world where he eventually rose to the top as CEO of his own company.

While there are other BBQ establishments, American Heroes Smokehouse is in a league of their own. “We didn’t have a freezer for the longest time,” said Aaron. “We only have enough room for two batches a day, and then the next day we start all over again. We don’t have the ability to hold onto product, so it’s always fresh.” The meats are smoked overnight for 12-16 hours, the greens take five to six hours, and the cheese sauce for the mac ‘n’ cheese takes three to four hours. “It’s always in a constant state of flux.” The crew that closes the restaurant at 8:00 p.m. will put on the first batch of meat which is brisket and pork butt. Then the next morning, the first person in at 6:00 a.m. will check the temperature of the meats, take them out when ready, and load in the ribs, chicken, and turkey which will smoke until 11:00 a.m. when the restaurant opens. Aaron will then start the first batch of beans which takes 30 minutes to an hour. Everything is a slow process to perfection, and customers notice. “Our main seller is brisket, but California is more of a tri tip area,” said Aaron. “We’re finding that we’re introducing brisket to a lot of people for the first time.”

The inspiration behind the smokehouse’s menu is to provide the best BBQ from different areas. They do Texas brisket, Carolina pulled pork, St. Louis cut ribs, Alabama white sauce, and other creative options. “I’ve probably eaten more pulled pork over the years than anything else, but the turkey is surprisingly moist,” said Aaron. “It’s not prepared the same as other places.” In addition to smoked meats, American Heroes Smokehouse offers sides like fried pickles, potato salad, two different coleslaws, and more, along with seasonal desserts. “I’m trying to work with a local farm to get a cherry cobbler on the menu. That was the idea before we even moved out here once I saw what was in the area.”

American Heroes Smokehouse has big plans for the future, aiming to cluster down the BART line into San Francisco and Oakland and then continue down to Southern California. In the meantime, Brentwood and the East Bay Area get to enjoy unparalleled BBQ in our own backyard seven days a week.

American Heroes Smokehouse

8610 Brentwood Boulevard, Suite A,
Brentwood, CA 94513

www.americanheroesbbq.com

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