“I just can’t pay the bills anymore. We actually did pretty good business. There just weren’t enough waking hours in the day. I either broke even every month or it cost me $1,000 to work my ass off.”
— Cherratina Pankey, owner of Pankey's Smoked BBQ, about closing for business
Pankey’s Smoked BBQ has closed its doors after a little more than a year in business.
“I just can’t pay the bills anymore,” owner Cherratina Pankey said. “We actually did pretty good business. There just weren’t enough waking hours in the day. I either broke even every month, or it cost me $1,000 to work my ass off.”
Pankey and her boyfriend ran the business by themselves, and after having overcome some tough times, Pankey said it was impossible for the two of them to do everything necessary to stay afloat.
After the death of her husband four years ago, Pankey said she had financial troubles and then broke her leg and was unable to walk for nearly two years. Pain from the injury still prevents her from being able to stand or sit for long periods of time.
Not knowing where to turn for employment, she fell into owning the barbecue business.
“When I saw it come up for sale, it had a little RV next to it and a great air conditioner, and I thought if I got tired, I could go rest in the RV,” Pankey said.
Purchased in 2006 by Gabriel Daigle from the First Church of Fellowship, Daigle sold to Mitchell Epstein in 2007. Epstein still owns the property.
During a yard sale for the business, Pankey said she was overwhelmed and exhausted.
“I was going to close a little earlier, but I kept hanging on. It’s hard because you just want to go to work, just want to open,” Pankey said. “I had this plan I was going to be done in September at the latest. And I just couldn’t bring myself not to open the shop.”
Pankey said her location at 1740 E. U.S. Highway 40 had its drawbacks and advantages, and said she wasn’t able to capitalize on its advantages. She said if she had been able to work more hours and get up to provide breakfast burritos and coffee for commuters on their way to Steamboat, the business might have fared better.
“But I really think we did good despite the economy,” Pankey said. “So many people didn’t get here. It’s so tough right now. No one has money.”
Pankey said she and her boyfriend are sorry and sad to close the doors, saying some of their loyal customers have been so sweet.
“They’re like, ‘This is a bummer,’” Pankey said. “But it’s been seven years of this crap, and I can’t wait it out for it to end,” Pankey said about the economy.
Pankey said she had about $10,000 in her savings account at the beginning of the year but has worked her way through most of it. By the time she had closed the doors, her savings had dwindled to $2,000.
“It’s terrible. I should have closed sooner,” Pankey said.
In an effort to raise money upon closing, Pankey is having a yard sale this and next weekend with much of the restaurant’s furnishings and equipment. She said she has a like-new convection oven she bought for $3,500 that she now is selling for $1,500. A large amount of ice cream cones also are for sale, she said.
“I stayed until I was dead broke,” Pankey said. “I am barely able to limp away from this.”
Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or email@example.com