About Us

we wanted to open a burger bar, so in the spring of 2O14 we went to london to visit good burger bars for inspiration. first up was patty & bun just off oxford st. they were good, very good, “hmm, we need to be that good to be special” i thought. we then went onto pitt cue just up the road in carnaby street. a tiny basement restaurant serving fantastic BBQ food. The setting was hipster & grungy, the kitchen was spotless and the food was awesome. i changed my mind. BBQ is where it’s at, not a one-trick pony like a burger!

so the team and i went back to cambridge and came up with SMOKEWORKS; real BBQ food in an american style, but with influences from all over the world. that was our first inspiration

then we found the quirky little site on FREE SCHOOL LANE which lent itself perfectly to our concept. the food we knew we could nail, but what about the design… what could we do that would set us apart and get the customer interacting with the restaurant. then the lightbulb moment, literally, was the “switch”. no trying to get a waiters attention with a raised hand or british reserve. if you wanted something, anything, turn the switch, lights come on and the team swoop on you! a bit gimmicky? yeah sure, but it works perfectly and people loved it. a gloriously analogue solution in a digital world. so SMOKEWORKS was born and we have been trying to paint cambridge orange ever since!


Who's who

Max Freeman
Founder, MD & General Dogsbody!

3O years in the industry has led me to SMOKEWORKS. i love great service and buzzing atmospheres in bars and restaurants. add to that mix; great food, interesting drinks and fun people and you’ve got the ingredients (excuse the pun) for a cracking experience!

there are a few words that have become key principles for us at Smokeworks, and they are; BBQ, BEER, BOURBON, FUN, SLOW COOKED. FAST, TECHNOLOGY – new and old (ie the switch) and MUSIC. everything we do has to live up to these principles. if it don’t fit, then it ain’t getting in!

i’m hands-on and always getting involved… or in the way depending on your point of view, and you’ll find me on site every day. while a Londoner by birth, i’ve lived and worked in cambridge for the last 21 years. when I’m not talking about SMOKEWORKS I’m talking about scalextric, and one day I’ll get both my passions combined. watch this space!

Ed Lockwood
Brand Development Manager

ed grew up in the industry in businesses owned by his family, friends and even a few by himself. he’s also worked in national chains including fullers, greene king and nando’s before joining the team at SMOKEWORKS

starting out as the gm at FREE SCHOOL LANE and then heading over to lead the team at STATION ROAD, he now finds himself in charge of all things brand at SMOKEWORKS. from menu development through to all things social, you’ll usually find him either working on his laptop or with his mobile in hand helping drive the business forward through all things BBQ, BEER, and BOURBON!

Amanda Colbran (AC)
General Manager, Free School Lane

If you think the face looks familiar then don’t panic, as it’s more than likely that you’ve seen her somewhere before as she’s cambridge born and bred. working in many of the big name restaurants along the way before her old boss (max) put her in charge of all things FREE SCHOOL LANE

amanda is all about the guest experience, which you’ll see if you read through the reviews on the FREE SCHOOL LANE tripadvisor page. no request is too big or too small for her and the team and she’s always up for a challenge!


Paulina Zet (PZ)
General Manager, Station Road

paulina’s been working in hospitality for over 15 years now and has worked in a number of cambridge restaurants before eventually finding what she calls a home away from home at SMOKEWORKS.

“the fun and relaxed atmosphere here at SMOKEWORKS, along with all the gimmicks and quirkiness that we represent was just what i needed as i’d previously worked in very formal restaurants – it was a real breathe of fresh air! i’m so happy to be a part of the station road team. i get to manage some lovely people and help them deliver a great customer experience. i’m truly passionate about showcasing all things BBQ, BEER and BOURBON that makes a visit to SMOKEWORKS something different and so special!”

when not at work you’ll find her having fun with her young family and, if the time allows, spending hours over board games! she also says she’s working on losing her villainesque accent (born in poland) and improving her knowledge of all those great english idioms which really don’t translate back in to polish that well. guess we’ll wait and see how that goes!