Talk to a few business owners and you’ll find that the journey of an entrepreneur is rarely a straight line.
Josh Doldan is one man for which that is definitely true. Doldan owns Get Smoked on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo, but he wasn’t always the sole owner. Grinding his way through the pandemic and shedding more than one business partner, the North Buffalo native is coming out the other side of a tumultuous path, operating a busy, growing restaurant.
Back in the fall of 2020, he told me: “I’ve always wanted to own a business in this area, so this is like a dream come true for me.”
More recently, he started sounding like the dream had become a bit of a nightmare. The core barbecue concept shifted multiple times, and differences with former business partners left him as the only man left standing behind Get Smoked.
The current concept is focused on handheld sliders ($15 or $18 for three) with a heavy emphasis on smoked meats. In addition to smoked pulled pork and brisket sliders, there are also fried chicken and falafel options. Three sliders come per order and each order comes with a side of beans or coleslaw. French fries can be substituted for an additional $2.
On my visit, the Nashville Chicken sliders ($15 for three) featured spice-forward complexity rooted in a sweet, tangy sauce. An off-menu smoked gouda bacon jam cheeseburger was the ideal blend of hot, sweet and smoky. The side of coleslaw spice blend gave it a fresh vegetal taste perfect for cleansing the palate. Soft drinks were the main beverage option.
Born and raised in the area, Doldan said his simple but on-trend concept is well suited to the current Hertel Avenue.
“I thought Hertel back in the day was more of a party area, but now, it’s a little bit classier, trendier and up-to-date,” he said.
Get Smoked neatly fits into this new Hertel vibe. The restaurant has stylish, yet chill accents: a custom neon sign, graffiti walls and a wraparound couch by the front window.
Acknowledging that, yes, people still do in fact party on Hertel, Doldan said he plans on adding alcohol in the near future. A bar is currently being constructed and Doldan said to expect beer, wine and cider available by late fall.
We’ve watched Get Smoked since opening as a takeout-only operation in the fall of 2020. The early days were rough, as Doldan will readily admit. But he’ll also tell you that the experience was more liberating than anything.
“Honestly, before I made the switch, it was super overwhelming,” he told me about a week ago. “We were trying to do way too much. So now, this simple, less-is-more concept is definitely working.”
Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.
1418 Hertel Ave, Buffalo, NY 14216