Jamie Guay, a former resident of northern Michigan, recently opened a specialized mobile version of his popular area restaurant Flat Rock Wood Room. Guay is an Air Force veteran who found a passion for cooking during his service. He trained in Japan to be a professional chef, working in hotel kitchens. A few years ago, when he was in Tampa Bay to participate in a barbecue competition, he met the original owners of Flat Rock Wood Room, Kim Hicks and Wayne Blessing, who were also in town to compete. When they mentioned they were selling their North Carolina restaurant, he jumped. Today, Guay’s love of barbecue and other hearty dishes has taken him in a new direction. He designed the sustainably outfitted Wood Room BBQ Trailer, where chef Juan Montoya does the daily cooking.
What sparked your interest in opening a food trailer?
The main reason initially was for the [World] Equestrian Games [a global event at Tryon International Equestrian Center]. I have a few locations [there] where I will be set up in September for 3-4 weeks. I’ve travelled so much in the past for competitions, so I am very familiar with trailers. I knew that having one would allow me to have flexibility. I can even take it out of state if I wanted to. That’s really what piqued my interest.
What are other advantages of the trailer?
Being able to relocate to wherever I want will help get the word out about my food, and help me to grow the restaurant. I also can serve specialized items that I don’t serve in the restaurant. We compete professionally [in barbecue competitions] all over the nation. The trailer will help with this.
What demographic are you focused on? Locals? Tourists?
It seemed like when I first moved here, the target base was the tourists. I wanted to make my food and restaurant atmosphere interesting, and now my focus is the locals. Those truly are the individuals that keep my place open year round. Every now and then, I mix the menu up a bit. It keeps local customers coming back and allows for close relationships to emerge. … Dennis Horton, the owner of North Main Paint & Body, is a long-time customer of mine at the restaurant. He’s letting me park my trailer outside of his shop. … Tourists are really just the icing on the cake.
Describe the cuisine you offer at the trailer.
Right now we are offering a week of free barbecue sandwiches for law enforcement and firefighters. I provide barbecue with the truck — especially ribs and chicken. I also serve beef brisket and am creating some specialty items that we’ll be coming out with. For example, we’ll have a special parfait dish in a tall glass, layered like this: baked beans, sauce, mashed potatoes, sauce, pork, corn, [more] pork, and on top, coleslaw … served with a parfait spoon, of course. Lately, I’ve been trying to step it up and really focus in on the details of my ingredients.
What makes your food trailer different than a more basic food truck?
I designed it from the ground up. I wanted to make sure I had room for all of my cooking equipment, and, because of my familiarity with other trailers, I knew relatively what layout design I would need for it to work. … It’s self-contained, meaning I can take it out anywhere, even to an open field, and it would be fully functional. I use a reflective ceiling to keep it from getting too hot. Also, every light is LED, so I don’t need a generator. I have a very low-draw refrigerator and an extremely efficient AC. Ultimately I am aiming for low-power consumption.
The Wood Room BBQ Trailer is open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30am-3pm, at 1511 North Main St. in Hendersonville. (Visit Jamie Guay’s trailer at its N. Main St. location though Apple Fest. It will move to the World Equestrian Games in Tryon during most of September, returning to Hendersonville in October.) For trailer updates, including upcoming dinner hours, see flatrockwoodroom.com/mobile/wood-room-bbq-trailer