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!
so, how did we get from smokin’ meat to slingin’ darts? post-pandemic i felt we needed to do something different. i looked at the space we had at STATION ROAD and thought it lent itself perfectly to host the city’s first smart darts venue. so, SLINGERS at STATION ROAD was born. it’s a smart digital darts experience that combines the classic SMOKEWORKS offerings of great food, drinks, and service with a fun and competitive social activity. it has become increasingly clear that people are looking for new and unique ways to enjoy their time out of the house and at SMOKEWORKS, we understand that going out isn’t just about grabbing a drink and something to eat – it’s about finding a way to make the experience memorable and enjoyable. that’s why we’ve decided to add SLINGERS to the menu!
MAX – SMOKEWORKS MD
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!
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!
Vicky Cheng (Vickster)
General Manager, SLINGERS STATION ROAD
VICKY, aka VICKSTER, who has worked in hospitality venues around CAMBRIDGE for the past 1O years. she started her career off behind the bar, and that’s where she found her passion for both hospitality and also her voice! trust us, she loves nothing more than a good natter. eventually she made her way on to the floor, where she goes out of her way to make sure that you, the guest, not only has a great experience while visiting her restaurant, but that you’ll also remember this experience when you leave. just look at how many times her name is mentioned on the tripadvisor page for our FREE SCHOOL LANE restaurant!
known to dress up a little when she’s on a night out, she loves a good party and isn’t afraid to help get the party started on a friday, saturday, or any night come to think of it, in our TAP bar or restaurant
“i love how creative i can be at SMOKEWORKS. i can fully immerse myself into the SMOKEWORKS ethos”