116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Lisa Gilliatt used to think of her outdoor grill as something she only used in the spring or summer to cook hot dogs and burgers or the occasional chicken breast.
Now, she and husband Brian, both 52, use their grill year-round, and their grilling menu has expanded substantially – including sausage, chili, whole chickens and even bacon-wrapped Oreos.
The two, owners of The Grill Works, a specialty store in Marion, also work with hundreds of customers to help them get the most out of their grills, too.
In their store, the Gilliatts sell high-end grills and smokers along with seasonings, rubs and sauces, tools and supplies and just about anything else one needs to get the most out of a grilling experience.
'When we opened the store, we knew we wanted to sell things that we could stand behind,” Lisa said. 'A good life for a grill from a big box store can be three to five years. The gas grills we sell can be either natural gas or propane, they can be custom-designed, and have a lifetime warranty.”
Brian had been servicing gas grills for a number of years when the couple decided to venture into retail. He and another technician continue to service the grills they sell.
And they don't just sell gas grills.
'Our most popular model right now is the Green Mountain wood pellet grill,” Lisa said. The pellet grills provide a more customizable cooking experience, she said, with settings between 150 and 500 degrees.
'You can use them as a grill, you can use them as an oven, you can use them as a smoker,” Lisa said. 'They're very versatile.”
Beyond selling grills and accessories - they recently started carrying pizza disks and a pizza oven attachment - the Gilliatts also offer workshops and cooking classes to help customers up their grill game, at least they did before the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic is keeping people at home more, and people are cooking outside more - even in the winter, Lisa said.
'These grills have offered a lot of flexibility and an easy way for people to entertain at home,” Brian said.
The Gilliatts closed their store last April and May during the height of the pandemic. But unlike some retail shops that have struggled to attract customers over the past year, traffic at The Grill Works has been fairly busy.
'We wish it would have been for much different reasons, but we really did have a great year last year,” Lisa said. 'Not only were people staying at home and looking for new ways to cook at home, but we were busy counseling people over the phone, by email and on Facebook chat, helping those who had never smoked before or who had questions. We put recipes together and provided step-by-step instructions for how to do barbecued ribs and smoked pork butt.”
Recipes and videos can be found on the store's website, thegrillworks.net.
'We had to create a whole different way of conducting business because people weren't comfortable coming in,” Lisa said. 'If someone wanted to do a curbside pickup, we would load the grill into the car for them, so they didn't have to even get out of their car.”
In a typical year, Brian said, he and Lisa offer workshops and classes on the weekend. The pandemic put a pause to those, he said, but they hope to bring them back when things open up more.
IF YOU GO
Name: The Grill Works
Address: 763 Eighth Ave., Marion
Phone: (319) 395-7118
Apple Hickory Grilled Burgers
3/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
1/4 cup applesauce
1-1/2 tablespoons John Henry's Big Daddy's Smokehouse Rub
Galena Canning Co. Apple Hickory BBQ Sauce
Combine first four ingredients. Shape into 5 to 6 patties (or meatballs).
Grill to desired doneness. Brush barbeque sauce on during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
Serve on buns or as meatballs with additional barbeque sauce to taste.
3-2-1 Smoked Ribs
St. Louis-style ribs or spare ribs
John Henry's Pecan Rub
Peel membrane from underside of ribs. Place a generous coat of rub on ribs. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Remove ribs from refrigerator and allow to warm to room temperature. Smoke for three hours unwrapped at 190 degrees.
Lay out a piece of tin foil larger than the length of the ribs. Make a bed of brown sugar, honey and butter. Lay ribs, meat side up, on the mixture and wrap. Wrap again with a second layer of foil. Smoke for two hours at 225 degrees.
Unwrap the ribs and place back on the smoker. Smoke for one hour at 225 degrees. Brush them with barbeque sauce the last 20 minutes, if desired.
If using baby back ribs instead of spare ribs, adjust smoking time to 2 hours smoking, 2 hours for ribs in foil, and 1 hour for unwrapped ribs, for best results.