Writer / Matt Keating Photographer / Eli Beaverson
Ryan Gregg, owner and operator of Rackz BBQ, says he is always open to suggestions from customers, and willing to go the extra mile to ensure they love their food.
Gregg says he and co-owner Zach Krumwied have stressed these factors since the beginning.
“We opened the first week in December of 2017,” Gregg says. “We opened for dinner only, so we could test the waters and fix any issues that arose. We opened with only the training we had from the restaurant we previously worked at. It actually went surprisingly well.”
Gregg started in the barbecue business back in the late 1990s working at G.T. South’s Rib House, near 71st Street and Binford Boulevard in Indianapolis.
“I worked my way up at G.T. South’s over time,” Gregg says. “I really enjoyed the work and the people I worked with. You certainly meet some unique characters in the restaurant business. For whatever reason, G.T. South’s later closed, and I had a decision to make. Should I waste away the experience I’d gained over the years and get a job doing something else, or sell all my assets and try to do it on my own? I chose the latter.”
Running Rackz BBQ is not a job Gregg does on his own.
“I have an amazingly talented team that I work with,” he says. “Some of the people I’ve worked with for over 20 years.”
During the process of looking for a restaurant location, Gregg was contacted by Krumwied, who wanted to help him start a restaurant.
“The ball was rolling then,” Gregg says. “I absolutely love being here in Carmel. It’s been wonderful. Early on, I would notice customers showing their phones to our counter staff at the restaurant. When I’d ask about it, the customers would show us glowing Rackz BBQ reviews on the Nextdoor app. It was great to know we were on the right path.”
Gregg says Rackz BBQ has partnered with some Carmel organizations to help raise awareness for their specific causes.
“When the pandemic hit hard, those organizations used their social media to remind their thousands of followers that Rackz and other small businesses were still open, and could use support,” Gregg says. “That was really special.”
Gregg believes Rackz BBQ has been successful because it sticks to serving great-tasting food.
“We are fairly traditional, focusing on letting our meats stand out,” Gregg says. “All of our sauces are made in-house daily. There is a southwestern style incorporated into our rubs. We also have tangy sauce, coleslaw, and other great side dishes.”
Gregg says his family has given him a lot of support.
“My mother, and biggest supporter, enjoys a vegan diet nowadays, so jackfruit barbecue has been on the menu from the beginning,” Gregg says. “I’ve got to keep mom happy.”
Gregg doesn’t worry about competitors.
“I don’t pay much attention to what everyone else does, but am always open to what our customers want,” he says.
Gregg is passionate about his work.
“It’s just about putting out the best food we can,” he says. “It’s great to see the customers actually enjoy the food. There is a window from the kitchen to the dining room, and I love having a peek through there, and catching a diner start nodding their head, as he or she is finishing their first bite. Then I do a little fist pump and get back to work.”
Customer favorites include the restaurant’s popular combo meals.
“We sell our combos the most,” Gregg says. “We have two choices of meat and two sides. It’s a good amount of food so a lot of couples will share. My personal favorite is an easy choice. It’s the baby back ribs.”
Gregg says he never forgets how lucky he is.
“I would just like to send out gratitude to the Carmel community,” he says, “I want to give thanks to everyone that spent their time putting this little place together. Thank you to my teammates, and thanks to everyone who has supported us along the way. It’s been a wonderful rollercoaster ride.”
Visit Rackz BBQ at 5790 East Main Street, Suite 140 in Carmel. For more info, give them a call at 317-688-7290, or visit rackzbbqindy.com.