Bailey is the co-owner of a popular restaurant concept in Ohio and Michigan called Old Carolina Barbecue Company. The specialty? NOT burgers.
As it turned out, Old Carolina was not just a great restaurant, but a popular barbeque caterer throughout Northeast Ohio. And, as Bailey explains, they were occasionally met with clients who wanted catered events with hamburgers.
“When a 450-person catering event came to us wanting hamburgers, we had to review our equipment,” Bailey said. “So, since we had a smoker, we decided to try smoking our burgers. And, they were amazing!”
His team served the smoked burgers at the event and the guests were blown away.
“The 2013 National Hamburger Festival was actually only the second time we ever sold our burgers to the public,” Bailey explains. “Yet, we won two awards in the Burger Cook-Off that year!”
Since then, it’s taken off like crazy. Bailey now co-owns two locations of Smoke The Burger Joint – one in North Canton and the other in Carrollton.
The restaurants feature a heavy-duty menu of “Road Trip Burgers,” which are inspired by other cities around the country. You’ll find items like the Buffalo Blue Cheese Burger, Philly Cheesesteak Burger, Carolina Kettle Chip Burger, etc.
And, you’ll get a good taste of all that at the National Hamburger Festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on Aug. 8-9 at Lock 3 Park in Akron.
“We look forward to the craziness that is “burger-nado!” After all, there are burgers flying everywhere,” said Bailey. “It’s fun for our staff to sell thousands of burgers over the weekend at a frantic pace. We enjoy that!”
The restaurant is known to serve up to as many as 10 different burgers from their booth at the festival.
Want to try one of their festival fan favorites? Savor the Texas Triple Jay Burger, which includes smoked pickled jalapeno mayo, cheddar, jalapeno bacon and fried jalapenos. Or, check out the Dirty Vegas smothered in balsamic mayo, spinach, cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions and a fried egg.
At this year’s festival, Smoke crew will be premiering the House Burger made with housemade ketchup, housemade mustard and housemade pickles.
“If you love good burgers – and I think every American does – this is a celebration of great burgers. It’s an opportunity to sample so many different kinds. Bring the family so that you can buy burgers, quarter them, share them and try the different flavors represented.”