Sugarfire Smokehouse will serve food to the Columbia community Saturday at Waves Cider Co.

This will be its first time selling food here outside of the Roots N Blues Festival.

“I’m surprised it took so long,” said Mike Johnson, Sugarfire’s co-owner and main chef.

The St. Louis-based restaurant — which has a total of 15 locations across the Midwest and Texas — will serve pork and brisket sandwiches and ribs and potato salad from 1 to 6 p.m. ... or until Johnson runs out of food.

Because he does not know “if 10 people or 400 are coming,” Johnson recommends getting there early. He’s bringing enough food for three to 400 people, he said. Waves Cider is located at 604 Nebraska Ave.

Sugarfire has held pop-ups around the country before, and the owners have been looking into opening a permanent location in Columbia for a few years. However, “nothing’s ever really come up,” Johnson said. This hasn’t been an exciting year to open a restaurant because of COVID-19, he said, but they still intend to open a location here, which will happen possibly next year.

Columbians may have something else to look forward to as well. Johnson also owns Sugarfire “sister restaurant” Hi-Pointe Drive-In, which sells burgers and has two locations in St. Louis. He said he is “always looking in Columbia to do a Hi-Pointe.”

For now, customers can purchase some of Sugarfire’s signature dishes Saturday. The pork that Sugarfire will serve is Missouri pork smoked over cherry and hickory wood. It will also serve Texas-style brisket.

“Kansas City cooks brisket totally different, and most restaurants in St. Louis cook brisket totally different,” Johnson said. “But we do our brisket more of a Texas style. We cook it a little bit softer, cook it longer and slice it a little thicker.”

Customers can also purchase ribs, which Johnson described as classic baby-back ribs. All of Sugarfire’s meats are dry-rubbed, and customers can pick their own sauce to add.

Chelsea Bessey, Waves Cider’s general manager of retail operations, is excited about exposing people to something new and supporting other vendors.

“I’ve personally never had Sugarfire and am very excited to try their stuff,” Bessey said in an email. “It’s also a great opportunity to get people to Waves who haven’t been there yet.”

Johnson is interested in holding pop-ups at Waves Cider once or twice a month in the future, but it depends on the response he gets from Columbia on Saturday.

“I think they’re gonna like it,” he said.

  • Business reporter, fall 2020. Studying business and economics journalism. Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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