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Grilling season is here and one of the best outdoor grills is made right here in Arkansas.
Quick! Think of a company that makes a really great grill. I’m sure that many names came to mind, but hopefully, the first one was PK Grills. If not, keep reading and find out why this small Arkansas company should be at the top of your list!
“If you buy an older house in the Fayetteville/Rogers area, they all come with a vintage PK Grill.”
According to Scott Moody, chief marketing officer and partner, this is a running joke.
PK Grills were first designed and fabricated in Tyler, Texas, in the early 1950s. The company moved to Little Rock and the grills were sold around the south. They gained popularity well into the 60s when the company closed its doors.
Thanks to their rustproof, durable construction, many of the original grills are still around. Moody noted that once you recognize the PK’s design, you will start seeing them everywhere, and it’s not unusual to find them in yard sales and estate sales, especially at older homes.
After the company closed, PK Grills seemed destined to become just a faded memory. Then a couple of former Alltel executives found themselves facing an uncertain future when the wireless company was sold to Verizon in 2009. Deciding to get out of the corporate rat race, Moody, along with partners Brian Taylor and Jeff Humiston, set out to invest in a local company.
The group had looked at several options, but nothing really clicked until a fourth partner, Paul James, came across one of the old, forgotten PK Grills. The grill sparked nostalgia in James and he was inspired to bring back a piece of his childhood. The team agreed, and PK Grills was revived.
Starting small, the focus was on recreating a beloved product with the same level of quality as the original. The unique features of the grill and its hand-poured cast aluminum design were nonnegotiable. Moody felt that to make a comeback and make the company a success, they needed not only a fantastic product but to also sell the romance of it. When people purchase a PK Grill, they won’t just buy a fantastic product, but one that will remind them of their past and will last well into the future.
PK makes several grill/smoker products, but it all began with the PK Original. Designed exactly like the 1950s model, the cook chamber is constructed entirely out of cast aluminum. Aluminum is a more efficient conductor of heat than other metals often used in grill construction. Plus, it’s rust-proof and durable so you won’t have to worry about your grill rusting out every year or two in the Arkansas humidity.
One unique feature is their four-vent system. Most grills only have two vents which means air and heat typically only move in one direction. That is great for high heat cooking but doesn’t work well for low and slow applications like smoking and roasting. With PK Grills, you don’t have to choose. Configure the four vents in several ways to get precisely the type of heat you need to grill the best meat and veggies of your life.
Cooking on a PK Grill is easy and versatile. You can cook hot and fast or low and slow and you don’t have to worry about hot spots.
In 2018, PK Grills was named as the official grill of the Steak Cookoff Association. The association hosts steak cookoffs all over the country throughout the fall and ends with a world championship cookoff in Ft. Worth, Texas, each March. The three-day event is attended by hundreds of individuals and about 9 out of 10 participants cook on a PK Grill. For the last several years, the world championship steak has been cooked on a PK Grill.
They have a full line of smokers/grills so that you can choose the right one for you. In 2020, the company launched the PKGO, a smaller unit designed specifically for camping and tailgating. The PKGO has the classic design the company is known for only in a smaller and more portable package. Its lower price point makes it perfect for anyone looking to experience the brand without investing a lot of money.
The company doesn’t intend to take over the world because the handmade process of making each grill is expensive and difficult. Moody says the grills will never be mass-marketed because they want to guarantee that every buyer is taking home a product at the peak of perfection. The high level of customer loyalty is far more important to Moody and the rest of their partners.
Whether you are an amateur home cook or an experienced griller, PK Grills is for you. They are backed by an industry-leading 20-year warranty, although it’s highly likely that your grill will keep performing right through that warranty and last another 20 or even 40 years. You will be passing it down to your children.
Moody tells me that they will be launching a new product this year. While he can’t give any details, will be epic! Their grills are sold on their website (where you can watch for updates about their new products) and in several independently owned retailers around Arkansas and across the south.
Oh, and if you are wondering what the PK in PK Grills means–it stands for Portable Kitchen. The name is genius because these portable kitchens give you the flavor and char of grilling with the ability to cook indirectly and smoke meats when you want to, all of which is achieved with the ease of using your home oven.
Photos courtesy of PK Grills.
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