By Sara Counihan
CHICAGO—We hear a lot about convenience stores and gas stations becoming awesome food destinations, but rarely hear of a gas station turning into restaurant. Bringle’s Smoking Oasis is a restaurant in a former gas station location, owned by Carey Bringle, who stopped by the Convenience Matters podcast to talk about this endeavor.
Bringle’s Smoking Oasis, located in Nashville, Tenn., is Bringle’s second restaurant, and he says that he chose the spot that used to be a gas station because of its bones.
“It still had the center island, which was the little convenience store, and had the large canopy over the top. It was a triangular piece of property, so it was where two streets split,” said Bringle. “It was an attractive piece of property to me because I could see the vision of what we could do with that.”
Bringle’s Smoking Oasis is a cafeteria-style restaurant with all items a la cart, and after customers move through the cafeteria line, there is a meat cutter offering meats to order by the pound, half pound, quarter pound, or however much customers desire.
Smoking Oasis also has corn hole and outdoor seating, and because it’s on a triangular-shaped piece of property, it has a unique set up.
“Because there’s a walled fenced around it, it has become an oasis for the neighborhood,” said Bringle. “There’s commercial development on one side of the street, and on the other is a full neighborhood. People can walk with their kids and their animals and come and walk to our place and hang out all afternoon knowing that they’re in a safe environment.”
The barbecue community is tightly knit, said Bringle, and barbecue restaurant owners often share tips and help each other through challenges, not unlike the convenience retailing industry.
“[The barbecue community] is very strong, and it’s very powerful when you’re trying to be successful in business to have that network of resources to lean on. I have found it to be great, and I’ve tried to pass that on to other people who are starting out, who we can help along,” said Bringle.
Along with two restaurants, Bringle also has an award-winning bourbon line called Peg Leg Porker Tennessee straight bourbon, which is distributed in 10 states now plus the U.K. (Peg Leg Porker is the name of Bringle’s other restaurant in Nashville.)
“I’ve got to concentrate on a lot of different areas other than just the restaurant, so I’ve got to be confident in that restaurant team to do their job and to manage those locations,” said Bringle. “I’ve got some great people that do that. I’ve just got to remind myself that I need to lead from the top and lead by example, and then they’ll know the right things to do.”
Listen to this week’s Convenience Matters podcast episode No. 331 to learn where the name “Peg Leg” comes from, what Bristle looks for when visiting a gas station and his secrets to success.
Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Magazine and NACS Daily. She can be reached at email@example.com.