Off The Grill
2015 Waters Ave., 912/232-1218
When Kevin Richards made his journey from the Virgin Islands to Savannah to attend classes at Armstrong, getting that degree was his main focus.
He never imagined himself a successful restaurant owner whose place sees a steady stream of neighborhood folks seeking good food at good prices.
When his mom would bring him into the kitchen, as a young boy, to teach him how to cook, he had to make himself pay attention.
Moving to a new city, much less a new country, though, can sneak in some sly changes to one’s viewpoint and goals, and when he started working with BBQ Master Robert Williams at Smokey’s in Garden City, he realized he liked that pit, those curls of fragrant smoke, the complex flavors so different from his mom’s home cooking, good though it was.
And that’s where the idea for Off the Grill began.
Watching an old master at work with the spices, the herbs, getting the temperature and timing just right to produce the most flavorful and succulent ribs and BBQ proved just too fascinating to resist.
When the little Chinese place in his neighborhood over on Waters Avenue, had closed and the space came up for sale, he decided it was time to strike out on his own—and the folks around his part of town were glad he did.
Every time I stop by, there’s a steady stream of customers who know just what they want—Kevin’s smoky beef ribs and brisket, those juicy quarter pound burgers, and tender tasty ribs are popular up and down the street.
Kevin may have landed in Illinois, then New York for a while, but the warm, sunny weather here drew him down South quickly. Arriving in a city renowned for its cuisine also brought him an appreciation of our famous Red Velvet cake—even a small take-out place should have a really good dessert—so he looked around until he found an older gentleman famed for his secret recipes for not only Red Velvet, but White Velvet cake as well. He credits James Jackson’s cakes for bringing in plenty of new customers and regulars alike.
Keep it simple, clean, consistent; give the neighborhood a place they can be proud of, where they know the service is friendly and food is reliably delicious, with prices that don’t starve your pocketbook—that’s Kevin’s philosophy.
I’ve waited for my take-out and watched many folks line up for those delicious Rib and Chicken Combos or joke with Reneé at the register, kids playing in the clean little dining room, bachelors having lunch at the tables.
Last night I brought home Kevin’s Rib and Chicken Combos and those are some marvelously tender ribs and tasty grilled chicken, enough for two meals at least. My hubby’s a big guy, and even he couldn’t finish his Combo, which comes with two sides and bread—lunch the next day was well-provided for.
You may find the collard greens a little sweet, but they are well-cooked and have plenty of smoked meat in them. The sides are pretty standard fare and the beans are from a can, but the meat is the star of the show here. Tall and lanky Nathan, with his sweet smile, mans the grill and will fix your burgers just the way you want them (don’t forget the bacon and cheese).
Combos come only with drumsticks—Kevin says it keeps things simple--but they have a delicately smoky flavor and his own blend of seasonings makes them special. He also offers a fine beef brisket, sliced on sandwiches or in plates, that just melts in your mouth.
Recently a selection of simple salads was added to the menu and the grilled chicken breast salad, topped with cheese, jalapeños, sliced eggs, tomatoes, cucumber, onions and pickles has become a favorite lunch choice.
You can also get that wonderful beef brisket, as well as chopped chicken, pulled pork or chopped ribs on a salad, or just add a simple salad as a side.
His menu is small and neat, revolving around his carefully smoked meats, the quarter pound burger (single, double or triple), and kids have their own lil’ meals to choose from. It’s not a haven for vegetarians by any definition, but if you’re an ardent carnivore, this is the perfect place for a take-home feast.
If you don’t feel like cooking, or want a quick and delicious take-out, pull on in to the parking lot and make your choices. Try that special Red Velvet too—sweet, but not enough to make your teeth ache; firm textured but meltingly soft on the tongue—and when you open up that box at home, you’ll probably be making plans for a return trip soon.