Pitmasters James Marinoff, left, and Ronnie Lee show off their special wood fire smoker called ‘Johnny Cash’. Lil’ Ronnie’s Beachside BBQ at Mackenzie Beach Resort is now serving patrons for dinner. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Pitmasters James Marinoff, left, and Ronnie Lee show off their special wood fire smoker called ‘Johnny Cash’. Lil’ Ronnie’s Beachside BBQ at Mackenzie Beach Resort is now serving patrons for dinner. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Lil’ Ronnie opens new Texas-style barbeque joint in Tofino

“I think this is going to be something the West Coast has never seen before.”

Does the thought of biting into slow cooked beef brisket or smoked ribs make your mouth water? If that’s a ‘heck yes’, you’ll want to mosey on over to Lil’ Ronnie’s Beachside BBQ.

Located in the old lobby at Mackenzie Beach Resort, Lil’ Ronnie’s is smokin’ with flavour and eager to please. Swing by the counter-service barbeque house Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to midnight for a feed.

Founded as a co-operative venture by Ronnie Lee and a crew of seven, an outside smoker called ‘Johnny Cash’ greets patrons with a sweet, wood fire aroma upon arrival, while the inside of the restaurant is thoughtfully decorated with ranch-inspired furnishings.

Ronnie and his executive chef James Marinoff, both former understudies to Wolf and the Fog’s chef Nicholas Nutting, said all the meat they serve is cooked on the unique smoker Ronnie bought in Ohio.

“There are no short cuts in cooking real wood fire barbeque,” said Ronnie. “You have to have someone standing at the smoker for 16 hours putting a log on the fire.”

Ronnie said his journey to opening a Texas-style barbeque eatery came about during his first semester of culinary school in Toronto.

“I was sitting at a bar called Cherry Street BBQ when I met the owner Lawrence La Pienta,” Ronnie recalls, adding that La Pienta is a world-renowned brisket king and pitmaster.

From that day forward, Ronnie has blazed a trail of smoky delights, driving across Canada with ‘Johnny Cash’ to establish his first location in a $200 tent at the back of Schooner Restaurant in 2017. The following summer, Lil’ Ronnie’s relocated to the end of Campbell Street.

“Locals kept us alive,” said Ronnie.

Front of house manager Marty Kukler said he returned to Tofino from Nanaimo to help Ronnie make the new Beachside location at Mackenzie work.

“We pooled all our savings,” said Kukler. “I lived on Ronnie’s couch for a month to make it happen.”

Ronnie credited his business partners Matt Lynch, Joey Donnelly, Shannon Richenback, Matthew Oakes, and Jason Werner for helping make a longtime dream come to life.

Renovations on a piano bar and sandwich stop project on the Mackenzie Beach Resort property are also underway. The new venture called ‘The General Store, Provisions & Libations’ is scheduled to open later this spring.

“I think this is going to be something the West Coast has never seen before,” said Kukler.

READ MORE: Ucluelet ready to welcome town’s first microbrewery

READ MORE: ‘Riverdale’ diner in B.C. to create milkshake honouring Luke Perry



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

barbecuerestaurantTofino,

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni received some good news about an expansion to its emergency department on Jan. 15, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

A Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation guardian took this photo of dozens of vehicles parked along a forest service road in the Kennedy watershed. (Submitted photo)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District looks at enforcement of illegal camping

ACRD currently does not have an existing bylaw service to tackle the issue

Ucluelet local Geoff Johnson snapped this photo of a Risso’s dolphin that washed up near Chesterman Beach in Tofino on Wednesday, Jan. 13. (Geoff Johnson photo)
Washed up Risso’s dolphin offers glimpse into “whole other world” near Tofino

“It’s like a UFO crash landed and you can come look at it.”

(B.C. government)
POLL QUESTION: Would you report a neighbour in breach of COVID-19 regulations?

Would you report a neighbour in breach of COVID-19 regulations? READ MORE:… Continue reading

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Most Read