Believe it or not, one of Savannah locals favorites, Sandfly BBQ celebrated 10 years in business during 2017. Now with two locations, the original in the Sandfly neighborhood (duh) and downtown Savannah in the Victorian District on Barnard and Henry Streets, owner Keith Latture is not only thankful for their loyal following, but also excited about the possibilities of where Sandfly BBQ goes from here.
Saturday night, December 9th, they are hosting a concert at their original Sandfly location. It’s a parking lot takeover and a thank you to his customers for making this unlikely run such a thrill. Unlikely how? Here’s my chat with the former fine dining chef:
Did you think you’d still be here doing BBQ 10 years later?
Yeah, I did. We’ve done better every year we’ve so we’d thought we’d be here. But really, I never thought that far ahead. When I decided to take over the BBQ spot from my parents, I had been offered a job in Colorado. I interviewed, then accepted the job. I asked them to give me a month to get out there. In that month, my parents (who owned and operated Sandfly BBQ) wanted to leave Savannah. BBQ was busier than they bargained. I was about to move and they felt like it was time for them to go as well. I felt sad. I loved it here in Savannah. My son was born here. I felt an attachment. At the last minute, I said I’m not moving. I figured, let me buy this and see what happens. They hadn’t even been open a year at that point but were doing very very well. I had helped get them open. I told them they could be doing so much more. We still laugh about our numbers compared to what they did that first year.
What’s been the best part of the 10 years of Sandfly BBQ?
Really getting to see fruits of my labor grow. To see something we thought we could do and make it successful. Doing this has allowed me to spend more time with my kids than the fine dining days, no question. That was big. I’m able to take my kids to ball games, soccer matches across the state. I don’t know that any of that would be possible.
How many employees do you have now?
The last time I counted, we had about 28-30 people. I wasn’t surprised. It feels good to have a business that employed so many people.
Have you given thought to a 3rd Sandfly location?
Sure. I am always thinking about that. I don’t know where, really. No specifics in mind. We’ve had lots of people call us over the years asking us to open in their shopping center. A lot of those calls. From regular customers. One guy twice a week. He’s tried to get us to go into some of those. One reason it took so long to do the second location is I am really picky. The Streamliner downtown was really cool and different. People love the vibe there. It’s a small space, but still cool.
What is your popular items after 10 years?
If you go by sales? The pork sandwich. I think there are several factors. The cost and really it’s a staple of any BBQ place. A measuring stick against the others.
No thoughts of taking on tourist central downtown near Broughton Street?
Not at all, really. The tourists are coming to us. Most of them come to the Streamliner. A few even find us in Sandfly. With all of the movies being made in Savannah, we’ve had a lot of celebrities come to the Streamliner. I couldn’t even tell you who they are, but the staff knows.
Could you name any of them if you tried?
Emma Stone. The guy from Power. The guy from Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Most of them have signed dollar bills we put up with the others. Paul Giamatti came in. Paula Deen came in to Sandfly location, but I wasn’t there.
Are you a Sandfly celebrity?
No, not really. I am always in the back. My mom is probably more. She runs the register. I don’t know that many people know my face.
So tell us about this 10th anniversary party you are throwing? Is it free?
It’s free. We just want to thank everyone and celebrate. It didn’t seem fair to charge people. There will be beer sales. We’ll have an oyster roast. Smoked chicken wings and tamales. Live music provided by Junkyard Angel. We’re closing downtown so those employees can come celebrate for one evening. A lot of the employees want to enjoy. It starts at 5pm. The band plays from 6p-9pm. There’s a tent to protect us from the chilly temperatures, tables and we’re also putting out some space heaters.
So we’re inviting everyone out to Eat It and Like It.
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