Sonny Orsini, part owner of Asu Smokehouse, passionately explained his dream of opening up a barbeque restaurant on Guam and the hard work that it took to get him where he is at now. At the time, Sonny was living in the U.S running his restaurant for about eight years. Nostalgic of the island life, his family, and the desire to reconnect with his culture, Sonny and his family made the call to relocate to Guam. Leaving his restaurant was difficult with all the time he invested and the work that he put in, but he thought why not do something that he loved while being surrounded by the people he loved. So, he called up his brother, Buddy, and they teamed up to make Asu Smokehouse come true.
Before reaching Guam, Sonny was already doing his research and trying to find out how he could go about opening up this business. He thought that Chamorro Village would be a great location and applied for a spot. Through that application process, Sonny sought the guidance of (former) business counselor, Frank Toves, at the Guam Small Business Development Center (Guam SBDC). He explained that Frank was instrumental in the technical and logistical assistance on top of the business planning in guiding him and Buddy. Furthermore, he stated that Frank really talked them through the process of how they were going to conduct their business, ways in finding efficiency, product costing, and clarifying their goals and objectives. Through multiple counseling sessions, Sonny and Buddy Orsini submitted their application and business plan and then were vetted and approved by Chamorro Village.
Asu BBQ plate featuring their mouthwatering
beef brisket with red rice, slaw, and homemade BBQ sauce.
Sonny and Buddy strive to provide a sustainable, value added product for their customers. As much as possible, they try to reduce their carbon footprint by not using petroleum, charcoal, propane, or electricity. Instead, they use a variety of tangantangan, mango, and a Filipino-indigenous wood, called chico with a sheet of newspaper and a match to burn a steady fire for over 12 hours. Sonny uses locally harvested sea salt from Inarajan Bay and his products are all made from scratch. Asu adds value to their products with the employees who handle them. Some of these individuals, Assistant Pit Masters, are from the Guam Community College Apprenticeship Program where Sonny and Buddy give lessons and hands-on practice on butchering, making sauces and rubs, fire management hazards and safety precautions, and high quality control. Currently, there are five employees creating and serving up delicious BBQ at Asu.
Asu Smokehouse brought a unique way of barbequing to the island that no one was doing. Smoking meats such as brisket, pork, and ribs overnight over a slow burning fire was what diversified Asu from other restaurants offering BBQ plates. Asu stands by “quality before anything”. They start off with the very best cuts of Certified Angus beef and cut no corners. This—along with other factors—has led them to win numerous competitions including Grand Championship for the 2014 and most recently the Grand Champion Grill Master at the annual Tumon BBQ Block Party held on July 5, 2014.
In the short run, Asu Smokehouse plans to implement greater efficiencies with the determination to always create a better product. They hope to overcome transportation issues that create personnel challenges. Their long term goals are to increase their product distribution and one day subcontract their wood. If you’ve been to Asu, you may have noticed their hours of operation sign, and yes it is true, they are collecting wood on Sundays.
Lastly, after touring the back-end operations of how Asu stores their wood and smokes their meat, Sonny wanted to share what he learned from starting his business to future business owners. He said, “Commit. Follow through. Be prepared to work like you have never worked before. But make time for family. Follow your dreams, because people will appreciate the amount of work you put in and what you have sacrificed. If you love what you do, then it’s not work.”
Asu Smokehouse is a restaurant located at the Chamorro Village closest to the Paseo Stadium entrance. They are open Monday – Saturday from 11:00am – 2:00pm and on Wednesday Night Market from 5:00pm – 9:00pm. For lunch special inquiries and to place your order, please call 671-979-1278 or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Asu-Smokehouse/256552447807246 or e-mail them at email@example.com.
For more information on how the Guam SBDC can assist you, please call 671-735-2590 or visit our website at www.pacificsbdc.com.