Chef Aaron Gonerway is a Blessing to Denver BBQ
Plates by the Pound BBQ turned a pandemic dream into a lined-block of returning guests every Saturday in Aurora for fresh, homemade brisket, ribs, pulled pork, smoked beef, and more.
Every child dreams of becoming a doctor, professional athlete, or a fire fighter … not many kids dream of cooking barbecue for a living.
For me, barbecue goes back to my early childhood in Clarksville, Texas where I learned that wearing cowboy boots made you a superhero, riding a horse made you feel like you were an actor in a western movie, and getting chased by my great grandmother’s roosters made me grateful that I was a fast kid. As a kid you quickly learned the cycle of life — one day you may be feeding your favorite little piggy, and the next you’re helping clean it out.
Barbecue was a celebration for us. We didn’t have much, but food brought everyone together. My uncle Glen taught me to ride a horse, clean a squirrel, and the sweet science of BBQ — it wasn’t fancy by any means, no gadgets, just an old, converted propane tank that had no temperature gauges, just man versus fire.
I was always fascinated by the fire. The smell … and to this day, when I smell someone cooking BBQ, it’s very nostalgic for me. I would ask my uncle 1000 questions, which either lead to me getting cussed out or asked to help … to me, it was worth it.
In the early ’90s, my mother had a salon in the historic Denver Five Points area and you saw a lot of Black-owned businesses and restaurants. Denver has an awesome history with barbecue that I’ve been blessed to witness — M&Ds, House of BBQ, which were some of my favorites.
Now owning my own barbecue restaurant, I want to carry that tradition and make Denver known for good barbecue, not just a state where weed is legal.
My uncle Glen taught me to ride a horse, clean a squirrel, and the sweet science of BBQ — it wasn’t fancy by any means, no gadgets, just an old, converted propane tank that had no temperature gauges, just man versus fire.
I started selling barbecue out of my house, thanks to my wife. I used to work for Arapahoe County Fairgrounds as an operations supervisor until COVID-19 shut us down. I saw so many people around me get laid off due to what was going on in the world.
So I would come home every day with a new business idea, and my wife would listen, but give me the ‘okay babe.’ Then one day she said, “Hey, why don’t you start selling your barbecue?”
I was so against it. At that time, especially on social media, everyone was selling something and I didn’t want to be part of that. Then my wife pretty much told me ‘we’re doing it!’ I was like, “Okay, I guess we are!”
I would sell BBQ on my off days, taking pre-orders only so I knew how much to cook versus cooking all this food and hoping for the best. It took off fast — I was selling 42-50 meat platters out my house and it got to a point where my wife and I knew we needed to take this to the next step.
August of 2021, we signed a lease, and by September we opened our doors and haven’t looked back.
Cooking came easy, but learning how to run a business came with us making a lot of mistakes. But that’s part of the process, and what don’t kill you will make you stronger.
But with me: you’ll always know my sides are always fresh and homemade, and the BBQ is something I put my heart and soul into, every time I cook.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything about this journey — as I learned so much about myself and that anything is possible if you put your mind to it! A good friend, Nando Mondragon who’s the owner of Certified Customs Tattoos told me to just get your plane in the sky and focus on keeping it up there, not the other BS people say you need to do to start a business.
I’m also thankful to be published is two magazines, mentioned in the Denver Post as One to Watch, and 8 must-try restaurants in Aurora according to Denver’s Soul Food Scholar Adrian Miller, recipient of Kingsford Preserve the Pit Fellowship grant in 2021, and Westword’s Best of Denver 2022 Food and Drink: Best BBQ You Only Can Get On Saturdays.
Somebody asked me what sets me apart from other restaurants, and I told her, good question, as I can’t speak for everyone. But with me: you’ll always know my sides are always fresh and homemade, and the BBQ is something I put my heart and soul into, every time I cook. I hope my story inspires the next backyard cook to take their passion to the next level.
Plates by the Pound BBQ
11601 E. Montview Blvd. Aurora, CO 80010
Every Saturday: from 11am – until we sell out (takeout only)
Open for catering, and stay tuned for Texas Wet BBQ Sauce to hit the shelves.
It all started in Clarksville, Texas as a kid, when my Uncle Glen would fire that rusty smoker up and people would start to come. My family lived in the country and you would think flavors and smells from the smoker attracted everyone to his house. Fast forward to 2020, I started selling barbecue out of my house on my off days, and opened a restaurant in Aurora in 2021. Everyday is a blessing at Plates by the Pound BBQ, where we have the usual suspects, brisket, ribs, pulled pork, smoked beef, and featured sides every Saturday from 11am – until we sell out!