It’s not often a new restaurant comes to Augusta with customers already clamoring. But after years of Augusta residents begging the Charleston-based chain for an outlet, the ribhouse will soon light its smoke pits.
The Memphis-style hickory smoked ribs, chicken and barbecue will open its second Georgia location in the former Stool
Pigeons on Robert C. Daniel Parkway in early September. Sticky Fingers’ co-owner Todd Eischeid has a personal relationship with the Garden City.
“My wife is from Augusta, so she and her family have been after us to open a restaurant here for years. I think they just want to keep a close eye on us,” he said.
Sticky Fingers claims to have received hundreds of e-mails begging for closer place to grab a bite of barbecue, and Carl Story is among those scribes salivating for the chain’s sauce.
“I can honestly say that Sticky Fingers is my favorite restaurant,” Story said.
Besides the casual atmosphere and honest-to-god Southern barbecue, it’s a safe bet that the sauces are what keeps
people like Story coming back. The National Barbecue Festival had plenty to say when it picked the company’s
Carolina Classic as Reserve Grand Champion in the recent “Best of the Best BBQ Sauce” competition.
“To be judged against other award winners and come out at the top — now that’s bragging rights,” said Jeff Goldstein, who co-owns the chain with Eischeid and their friend Chad Walldorf.
The award-winning mustard-based condiment is an abomination to many who live east of the Savannah River, where barbecue sauce is prepared using brown sugar and perhaps molasses. But it’s just one of the restaurant’s five original sauce flavors: Memphis Original, Tennessee Whiskey, Carolina Sweet, Habanero Hot and the Carolina Classic.
Sticky Fingers sells these sauces successfully over the Home Shopping Network, which, admittedly, is not saying a whole lot. But the level of national victory is such that the company chose to sell its actual food products on the cable television shopping channel. While during the week leading up to Christmas — the eatery’s busiest time of the year — the company usually sells about 1,000 packages of sauce, the company has nearly doubled that in just two showings on HSN.
In addition to the sauces, the company has been ridiculously successful in selling its actual food products — ribs and wings — on the channel. In one showing, Sticky Fingers sold more than 1,000 pounds of ribs, 3,000 pounds of wings and 440 sauce packs. Not bad for three guys whose business arrangement was forged somewhere around seventh grade.
Friends since middle school, Eischeid, Goldstein and Walldorf actually crystallized their plans for their first restaurant over a college summer break. While two of them bummed in Colorado ski towns after college, Goldstein put in time at his father’s Memphis restaurant.
When the family packed up and moved to Charleston, Goldstein discovered a ribhouse-less wasteland. It was perfect timing for three broke guys lacking in accounting, management and human resources skills to open a restaurant that serves pork a-plenty in a town fuming with fresh fish.
They named their joint after the Rolling Stones’ album of the same name — each claims credit for the moniker — and that decision 13 years ago may well have been the last thing they all agreed on together. The three worked together for a decade, but almost ended up killing each other during a discussion about baked beans. It was that conversation — the resulting scuffle, actually — that sparked their expansion into a second location, a burned-out Western Sizzlin’.
“We all love what we’re doing. In this business, you’ve got to if you’re going to stay around,” Eischeid said.
Lenore Young loves what they’re doing, too. The Augusta resident wrote the company recently to say that she’d be their first customer at their new location. In the meantime, she’d make the cruise to Columbia to get her fix.
“Now what does that say to you?” she asked.
Sticky Fingers will open by Labor Day weekend at 277 Robert C. Daniel Parkway, in the former Stool Pigeons building
behind Macaroni Grill. Call 706-733-7427 or 1-800-STICKYS.