Ten years ago Heatherly Stanley bought her husband Steve a smoker — because smoking meat was a bit of a hobby — and he wanted to see what he could do. And, oh boy, did he discover what he could do! Steve became a master of the BBQ! Fast forward to today and you’ll find Steve and Heatherly are still smoking up a storm. The dynamic duo’s restaurant, Goochy Goo BBQ, is a local favorite right on Main. But it didn’t happen overnight.
What do a hobby, an intuitive wife, a grandchild, and the desire to serve, have to do with one of the most popular restaurants in Wasatch County? Put your feet up, kick back, and let me tell you.
Steve Stanley loved smoking meats as a hobby. Smoking is a similar process to barbequing — if you were to take your thirty-minute meal and turn it into an all-day event. The process involves cooking the meat at a lower temperature for a longer time over a specific wood. Steve explained, “You can use any wood, but we use fruit woods like cherry or apple to create a sweeter flavor.” The longer you smoke it the more flavorful the meat is. “That’s why it says on our sign, ‘smoked low and slow.’ It’s a process.”
Heatherly understood Steve’s desire to experiment and do more with his passion, so she intuitively bought him a smoker. Now Steve would be able to go ‘hog wild’ with his meat-creations. You know the saying, “If you bake it — they will come”? Well, Steve ‘smoked it — and they came!” At first, the Stanley’s were asked to cater a few events, but you can’t keep that much goodness to yourself, and word travels fast in our small town. Things were about to get busy for this hardworking couple. While participating in the Heber Valley Market Steve and Heatherly were asked if they’d like to cook for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Pioneer Trek. They said yes, of course, and packed up their smoker for its first service project.
Pioneer Trek is a summer activity where Latter-Day Saint youth, leaders, and families, reenact the journey of the Pioneer hand-cart companies in the late fall and winter of 1856. Dressed in Pioneer clothing, they pull, push, and trek their way through various landscapes, in rain, shine, or the occasional snowstorm, for several days to a week. It is not an easy, laid-back vacation; it’s a lot of work, and there are moments of literal blood, sweat, and tears. And not just for those walking. Just visualizing the Stanley’s doing all the prepping, cooking, and clean up of full hearty meals three times a day for 100+ people for a week makes me tired! The Stanley’s loved their experience! Their sweet service-oriented souls even drove into town one particularly hot and windy day to purchase fifteen watermelons for their Trek family. This commitment, desire to serve, and genuine love for others, is easy for anyone who knows them to see and is probably the unseen extra ‘ingredient’ that helped them as they began their next Trek into the unknown world of ‘restauranteers’.
After Trek the Stanley’s jumped right back into the ‘smoke of things’ catering large events, feeding school districts and employees of Home Depot, and attending local events, just to name a few. Speaking of names. By this time it became apparent that the next step for the Stanley’s was to go into the business of BBQ. Neither of them had any experience in this arena. Heatherly was and still is an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher for Wasatch County School District, and Steve was an Assistant Director of Engineering in the field of Hospitality. Steve decided to quit his full-time job and the two of them created Goochy Goo BBQ. The name holds a special place in the Stanley family’s hearts. When Steve’s grandson, Tyson, was three years old he would tickle his grandpa under his chin, and giggle while saying, “Goochy goochy goo!” Steve laughs as he shares, “My kids and grandkids started calling me Daddy Goochy and Grandpa Goochy. When it was time to name the business, it was really simple. Goochy Goo rhymes with BBQ, so it was a natural fit!”
The couple invested in a trailer and created their first menu and home for Goochy Goo BBQ. “We had to find a place to prep all the food for the trailer. We created a partnership with Ridley’s to produce and sell out of their Midway location. We got so busy there that we had no time to take the trailer out.” Steve said. In a short time, the Stanley’s went from attending Swiss Days to moving into their new space, connected to the Chevron on Main, in August of 2020. “It’s one of the things that just fell into place,” Steve says.
Steve and Heatherly now create meals for thousands. Steve is living his dream barbequing all day long and into the evening. “I smoke meat for fourteen hours a day. I’m usually at the restaurant from seven in the morning until nine in the evening.” Everything is made in-house and the recipes are created by Steve himself. “We make our own meats, rubs, sauces — I don’t make the ketchup though,” Steve laughs. “We usually smoke our meats overnight and they are ready for the next day,” says Steve. “When we sell out, we’re out — it’s not like I can go in the back freezer and cook more up.” At times they do sell out, and it happens more often than not. This is because each item on their menu features Steve’s meats: from his nacho-like Scoops to the Hot Mess to his Signature Sandwich, each one is created by hand using the freshest ingredients. The servings are also huge and most of the time people will eat half and the rest will go home for a midnight snack.
Steve and Heatherly have created a name and reputation for themselves and not just here in Utah. Steve shared a story about a couple of ‘foodies’ who visited Goochy Goo from Idaho and Texas. They told him that they had stopped for a bite to eat after reading some of the stellar reviews the restaurant had received. Steve sat down with them and chatted, like he tries to do with every customer, and got to know them. “People really love his personality,” Heatherly says, “One of my nephews said, ‘did you know Steve has a six-hour aura? Like, you just feel really good after you’ve been around him and it continues with you for the next six hours.’” If they could bottle up Steve’s personality and make it into a restaurant — they’ve done it. Steve says their goal is for people to feel comfortable with coming over, getting a good meal, and relaxing. “We want to create a fun, nice place where people feel at home the moment [customer’s] walk through the door of our restaurant…that’s one of the things we love about this place,” Steve said about his new location.
The location has been great and the restaurant has grown rapidly from its grand opening in August to now. This has created amazing learning opportunities and developments for growth for the business and the menu. The couple has learned so much about how to run their business while offering an evolving menu at a reasonable price. “It can be difficult smoking meats. If you’re doing it for your home, you can babysit and play with it. However, when you take it to a commercial level, it’s more complicated. It’s a constant challenge to keep the quality up while making it profitable. We are still new to it and hope people are understanding. Our goal is to keep moving along, improving, and making our customers happy.”
Steve and Heatherly have a lot of ideas and goals for Goochy Goo BBQ. They recently started expanding their menu by adding street tacos, and continue to ensure they create a menu that caters to everyone; including options of gluten-free to keto. In the near future expect to see a breakfast menu featuring all of the smoked meats mixed with your breakfast favorites, and a drive-thru to optimize guest convenience. “One day at a time, one idea at a time,” Steve says about their upcoming changes. When asked what the big-picture future of Goochy Goo BBQ is, Steve’s response was quick: “Everyone’s dream is to have a big…whatever. I don’t care if I have three hundred Goochy Goo’s out there. My dream is to have something to leave my kids.”
In case you’re wondering what happened to the food trailer, well — as soon as the weather turns warm and Steve sets up his outdoor grill, people come from near and far to get one of his gourmet burgers.
Alongside his hype-worthy burgers, his BBQ menu is in full swing. Goochy Goo draws events that are worth stopping by; including many exotic car shows and other community events throughout the summer.
Goochy Goo’s most popular burger is the Goochy’s Peanut Butter Burger. Loaded with pickled onions, bacon, cheese, peanut butter, and a few extra special and secret ingredients, it’s a specialty people have claimed to dream about.