Fifteen years later, Hog Wild BBQ is still packing a punch

HOLLAND — It’s been 15 years since Tim Overway and his wife, Emily, took a chance opening one of West Michigan’s first barbecue restaurants.

Since then, the business has weathered storm after storm, including the Great Recession, pandemic-induced shutdowns and supply chain challenges. This week, the eatery is celebrating its anniversary with throwback pricing and customer appreciation.

More:Hog Wild BBQ completes interior renovation, continues to grow

“It’s that old cliche,” Overway said. “Time flies when you’re having fun. Fifteen years is a long time — but we’re having fun.”

Diners at the fast-casual restaurant are often served pork, chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and corn-cakes before they’ve had a chance to fill their drink cup.

“Fast-casual was really popular when we opened,” Overway said. “People seemed to really like that. We don’t do over-the-phone orders. Everything is just come in and place your order and we’ll prepare it.”

The exterior of Hog Wild BBQ in Holland Township.  The business is celebrating 15 years.

The idea for the restaurant formed when Overway owned Ottawa Beach Inn, a restaurant he’d been working at — under the ownership of his parents — since he was 14.

“Back in the day, there weren’t any restaurants open on Sundays, because you couldn’t sell alcohol,” Overway said. “We made chicken in our parking lot, and ribs and hot dogs and brats. We did that for about 25 years from Memorial Day until Labor Day. It was a great time, and we wanted to find a way to do that year-round .”

But barbecue food, Overway said, was a new concept in West Michigan.

“It was our little experiment,” he said. “We were one of the first. We looked around at different parts of the country, and we got to pick and choose our style.”

The couple found a building at 154 W. Lakewood Boulevard.

The three-meat sampler at Hog Wild BBQ includes a corn-cake and macaroni and cheese.

“It was condemned and run down,” Overway said. “But we thought we could turn it into a nice place. We renovated and started from scratch and opened up in 2007.”

Thirteen years later, when COVID-19 closed restaurants to dine-in customers across the state, Hog Wild was ready.

“We were already organized for takeout,” Overway said. “We were fortunate that way. Our catering really took a hit, but we offered bagged lunches, boxed lunches and individual meals, and that became a really popular item with businesses. We made it through and we’re happy for that.”

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Although the restaurant was initially designed with future locations in mind, Overway is happy with one.

Hog Wild BBQ is celebrating 15 years of business in the Holland community this week.

“We’re pretty content right now,” he said. “It’s great for the area, and honestly, I’ve been so fortunate with my employees. I’m one of the few places without a help wanted sign on my door. My pit boss has been with me since the beginning, I have three more full-timers that I’ve had since Ottawa Beach Inn. Without them, I couldn’t do what I do.”

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