Marketplace: Collie’s Sports Bar takes its BBQ to Coalville
Neither Dave Wakeling nor Rob Holt likes to stay in one place for too long. The two could have paused to enjoy the success of Collie’s Sports Bar and Grill on Main Street but instead, they chose to start another project.
Wakeling, owner of Collie’s, and Holt, executive chef, opened an offshoot location, Collie’s BBQ, in Coalville in November. Though the two restaurants share recipes, there is little else they have in common. One is a loud sports bar on a busy street that fills up in the evenings, while the BBQ joint is a local’s stop with no alcohol in a quiet town.
Holt, who has partnered with Wakeling since he helped open the first location in 2013, said that the decision to open another restaurant was a secondary thought to a need they had. They found that, during the busy season, it was hard to keep up with the high demand since brisket can take up to 20 hours to smoke.
During their search for an extra kitchen last year, Holt suggested that they open a restaurant in Coalville, since that is where he lives.
“Coalville is a fantastic town and they needed a barbecue joint,” he said. “This was kind of a no-brainer to open a restaurant here.”
Holt and Wakeling said that it has been a fun switch to go from 154 seats in the Main Street restaurant to nine in Coalville and from a bar filled with tourists to serving mechanics, farmers and other local workers.
“They come in, they say hi and they say thank you,” Holt said. “They’re always nice. It’s great. That is one of the things I love about this place. They are my neighbors.”
Trying something different and a little difficult is what Wakeling and Holt love about the restaurant industry. Wakeling moved to Park City with the intent of buying a restaurant with poor business and turning it around.
After evaluating three different restaurants for sale, he chose Doolan’s Sports Bar because of the challenge it posed.
“It was a project, and I love projects,” Wakeling said of the establishment that later became Collie’s Sports Bar and Grill.
Holt tried dozens of jobs before finding his passion as a chef. He also spent time working with failing restaurants and helping them get back on their feet.
The two met 10 years ago while working at a restaurant at Grand Targhee Ski Resort near Jackson, Wyoming. When Wakeling told Holt about his plans five years ago to open Collie’s – named after his pet border collies – Holt immediately jumped into the project.
“It’s been an adventure,” Holt said.
Wakeling said that they hope to continue to expand Collie’s in the future and that Collie’s BBQ is a “good experiment” to see how feasible franchising would be.
“This is a great place to start because it’s a little town outside of anywhere,” he said. “If we can make it here, we can probably make it anywhere.”
So far, it does seem like the two are making it. Holt said that business has been better than expected. Plus, if Coalville grows in the coming years, Collie’s BBQ is well placed right on Main Street.
Wakeling said that seeing the success of Collie’s Sports Bar and Grill and Collie’s BBQ motivates him to keep dreaming and expanding his business, but Holt said that there is some pride as well.
After taking a struggling restaurant, making it prosper, opening a new restaurant and “hitting the ground running,” the two feel good about their decisions to take chances.
It is not without hard work, though. Holt often spends all day at Collie’s BBQ and then works nights at the bar.
“But,” he said, “I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
36 S Main St, Coalville
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Bill White shut down his restaurants in the spring when the pandemic hit. They’re back up and running, but the challenges brought on by COVID-19 remain: “[I]t seems we collectively are taking one step forward and two steps backwards.”