07 August 2020

Meet the Pitmaster of RedWood Smoke Shack, Bob Roberts

We all have hobbies that make us who we are while providing us joy, but what if that hobby became a full-time business? Bob Roberts, Pitmaster and Owner of RedWood Smoke Shack, is one of those creative thinkers who turned his part-time hobby into a full-time profession. RedWood Smoke Shack is a Texas-inspired barbecue joint located in the historic Ghent neighborhood serving up delicious dishes packed with flavor! 

Bob’s journey began when he traded in the bitterly cold winters of Syracuse for Norfolk’s sunny beach weather back in 2009. While he was the contract catering manager at Norfolk State University (NSU), he began throwing backyard get-togethers where he was teaching himself how to smoke his own meat. Through YouTube tutorials and a lot of practice, he learned to smoke items like ribs and pork shoulder, and then quickly graduated to smoking an entire hog for luau feasts. Some of Bob’s favorite memories are hosting NSU themed luaus for students to celebrate their back to school arrival. He then decided to start selling his barbecue creations from his driveway. As Bob would put it, “things snowballed from there.”  

Then in 2016, Bob purchased a red-doored trailer that he found on eBay to transform it into the RedWood Smoke Shack food truck. The red door from his newly purchased trailer reminded him of The Redwood Diner back from his home state of New York which gave rise to his establishment’s name. While the name of his restaurant pays tribute to his hometown love, he also hopes to emulate their level of hospitality at his barbecue joint. Two years later Bob found himself with such success and love from the Norfolk community that he opened up his now permanent space at 2001 Manteo St. Norfolk, VA. 

Bob says his decision for creating Texas-inspired barbecue was an easy one. He loves the challenging yet simplistic nature with the barbecue focusing on the quality of meat paired with the craft of creating a flavorful dry rub. Bob explained, “I love the Que’munity [of BBQ],  everyone is so welcoming,” and “I love the heart that all pitmasters put into their food.” He suggests enjoying his spiced rubbed meat without any condiments because the Texas rub shines best when devoured on its own, but for those who are diehard sauce fans, five seperate house-made sauces ranging in different spice and sweetness levels to further enhance your barbecue experience are available. 

One particular meal that is smoked to perfection is the brisket. It is cooked so slowly that it falls apart with the touch of a fork and is served so simply on a buttery bun with a flavorful house-made sauce. The brisket is the star of their most popular dish, The Burnt Ends, which is literally little nuggets of brisket meat candy. Now that we have your taste buds watering, head over to RedWood Smoke Shack. That smoked perfection awaits you every time you step through the door. 

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