The "Rig" that started it all

When you’re an entrepreneur, you are always on the lookout to combine any leisure activity with a business agenda – because, even when you’re on vacation, you are consumed with what you do. So it is with Morgan and our family: a recent Robinsons “Spring Break” adventure to California’s central coast included a visit to Morgan’s family in Santa Barbara, paired with a makeover opportunity for the SMOKE Open Fire Cooking workhorse, the five-by-ten-foot grill on wheels.


This grill, or “rig” as we call it when it’s hitched to the back of the truck, was custom-built by Santa Maria BBQ Outfitters. Rolling into the grill’s manufacturing headquarters in Santa Maria en route to Santa Barbara, I was hit with a strong memory:  It’s hard to believe that just six years ago this grill was the inspiration for Morgan’s large-scale open fire cooking/catering concept!

The Big Idea: In order for Morgan to deliver a Napa Valley restaurant casual elegance that many of his winery and consumer clients were seeking at catered events, the grill would serve as a portable kitchen – enabling him to cook fresh, local artisan ingredients onsite over an open fire, and serve the finished dishes immediately – just as it’s done in a high-end restaurant. This is in stark contrast to traditional catering establishments, which cook the food in a catering kitchen, then transport it to the event site, then reheat and serve.

Getting back to the rig: We picked it up at the end of our vacation, on our way back to Napa. Check out the grill makeover! Besides the incredible job the company did on the branding , its crew repacked the wheel bearings, painted and tuned the entire rig, and replaced the crank system wires with chains. The rig cruised back to Wine Country in style!