Saucy’s Southern Barbecue and Cuisine Finally Launches Its Brick and Mortar

Since its debut in 2018, seldom a day passed when Saucy’s Southern Barbecue and Cuisine — then a roaming cart setup — didn’t sell out of its more-than-ample daily supply of ribs, wings, hot links and sides. Cousins Khristian Matthews and Ki’erre Dawkins’ signature recipes made a splash with cue connoisseurs and damn near anyone who passed by and could smell the cooking. The window to score a plate was short, the lines inevitably long. Many dreamed of the day they could enjoy the food at their own leisure.

That day has finally arrived. On Saturday, October 1, Matthews and Dawkins hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at their South University brick-and-mortar. The new 40-seat restaurant serves the same dishes that made the cart such a sensation, this time across a Chipotle-style quick-serve counter. Open daily from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saucy’s will center around an endless supply of charcoal-grilled wings and messily-drenched ribs, made all the better by a fleet of nine proprietary sauces. “You’re still coming here and getting the same experience you got at the food truck,” smiled Matthews. “Only we’re not selling out, that’s the main thing.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

An operation that for was, up until this point, just Matthews and Dawkins has now expanded to a team of 11, with plans to hire up to 20 once the building is fully operational. “Everybody here that work with us are previous customers,” beamed Dawkins, noting that many of the staff are already on track to become future franchisees. In addition, Saucy’s has partnered with nearby Denver University, both accepting the student meal plan Pioneer Bucks and serving and promoting across DU Athletic games. There’s also free wi-fi.

Matthews and Dawkins have been planning on transitioning to one, and then many restaurants since Saucy’s was just a glint and a set of notebooks and blueprints. The space is highly dialed in, the food tastes better than ever. Individual-item plates all run $16, with the two ($19) and three-meat ($21) plates being the more obvious choice. “The best restaurants specialize in a few things and it’s always hot and fresh,” said Matthews. Sides ($4) include green chili mac, sweet baby baked beans, great granny’s green beans and the absolutely essential grilled teriyaki parmesan corn.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Part of the plan has always been to incorporate a medicated food angle. Saucy’s Southern Premium launched in 2021, with two flavors of infused barbecue sauce now being available in over 20 Denver retailers including Starbuds, Cookies and Frost. Matthews and Dawkins hope that they will be able to add an infused component or smoking area to the existing roster, though the main bulk of food and environment will always remain family-friendly. The duo has no intention to apply for a liquor license.

“The vision is franchising far and wide,” said Dawkins. “We’re trying to plan for the legal states,” he added, noting the duo already has their eyes on possible locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. “I doubt this will be the first location to do infused food.”

Matthews and Dawkins have suggested that specials — crawfish boils, char-grilled oysters and deep-fried tacos — will be integrated into the menu as the restaurant gets in its groove. The trailer will still be used, but only for large-scale catering.

Though wiser men have sometimes advised against it, Saucy’s makes it feel just right to get lost in the sauce.

Saucy’s Southern Barbecue and Cuisine is located at 2100 S University Suite B, Denver. It is open every day from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

The duo is currently spearheading a fundraiser to send water to those in need in their home of Jackson, Mississippi. 

Photos by Alden Bonecutter and courtesy of Pablo Hendricks.