New Ray Brothers Pop-Up Smokin’ Brothers Inc. Opens in Hamilton

Ray Brothers BBQ’s new pop-up shop, Smokin’ Brothers Inc., opened last weekend on Oct. 28, adding a new dining option to downtown Hamilton.

Brothers Tucker and Colin first opened Ray Brothers BBQ in 2014 in Bouckville, N.Y. Ray Brothers is known for their authentic ribs, smoked for up to 14 hours, that won “Best Ribs in New York” by Food Network. Now, Colgate students and Hamilton residents can get a taste of Ray Brothers at their new sandwich shop at 22 Utica St. Featuring burritos, bowls, tacos, sandwiches and more, the shop offers a variety of options for downtown diners. 

During the 2022 Fall Fest, Ray Brothers hosted a table where students could get quick bites, unlike in the restaurant which is oriented toward sit-down meals. Ray Brothers’ office manager, Jami Canetti, likened that booth to the new downtown location. 

“The sandwich shop is walk-in only — easy and quick. We wanted to have more of a grab-and-go feel, similar to how we operate when we vend up on campus,” Canetti explained. 

Junior Kieran Keel, a self-proclaimed barbecue enthusiast, boasts that he was Smokin’ Brothers’ first customer.

“I require a photo on the wall at Ray’s […] I think it would be funny,” Keel said. “My friend was talking a big game about being first and I thought it might be funny to take the title from him. I was the superior barbeque enthusiast.”

The menu changes at this pop-up location are a surprise to students who have dined at the original location, according to Keel.

“It seems like they mostly do sandwiches and burritos, whereas the [original] mostly does just BBQ on a plate,” Keel said. 

Canetti provided further insight into the menu differences at the pop-up. 

“We prep almost everything at the restaurant so we still provide smoked, grilled and marinated options in the RBQ style but [Tucker and Colin Ray] wanted to provide a more ‘Build Your Own’ menu which includes burritos and burrito bowls, some signature sandwich options and more. Soon we will have daily specials to choose from as well,” Canetti said.

The sandwich recipes offered at Smokin’ Brothers originate from the first location, which allows long-standing customers to still enjoy their favorite menu items.

“We have not posted the menu online or on our social media, but at this point, I don’t think we will change it. The daily menus will be revolving once we start rolling them out,” Canetti said. 

Senior Shannon Keefe remarked that Smokin’ Brothers is a great new downtown dining option for students.

“I think a really smart decision is that they’re open on Mondays and a lot of places [in town] aren’t,” Keefe said. 

Keefe also noted the many restaurants had been in the space previously and commended the restaurant’s reasonable prices.

“It’s kind of within the price range of most things in town, it’s fast and easy and that space has had a lot of turnover — I know it’s only going to be there for a year but it’s nice to have some options cycle through,” Keefe said.

Colgate’s dining staff shortages at the beginning of this school year were one of the main issues the owners wanted to address with the opening of Smokin’ Brothers, according to Canetti.

“Colgate originally reached out to us with this opportunity to provide another dining option for the community, especially for its students, faculty and staff,” Canetti said. “This is purely a pop-up and we will only be running this operation until the end of the spring semester. We certainly encourage students to bring their families over to get a bite to eat whenever they are in town because we won’t be there for long, sadly.”

While Smokin’ Brothers may not be open for long, Canetti shared that there are already ideas for further campus involvement. 

“We have some ideas rolling around about possible nighttime gatherings at the Smokin’ Brothers Sandwich Shop but we’re still getting a feel of the location and the type of business we are pulling in,” Canetti said.

The Cuban sandwich is one of the best additions to the new menu, according to Keel and Keefe, who both noted the high quality of the bread. Open until May 2023, Colgate students have until the end of this academic year to try Smokin’ Brothers. It is open Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m to 3 p.m.