Brenda Clouston serves Southern hospitality at the Colt Grill

The restaurateur operates four barbecue smokehouses.

Grandmothers are famous for touching our lives in meaningful ways and sometimes even helping us chart a path to our dreams. For Brenda Clouston, owner of Colt Grill BBQ & Spirits, it was her grandmother Helen who fueled Clouston’s four smokehouse restaurants.

With locations in Cottonwood, Prescott, Prescott Valley and Sedona, Clouston isn’t shy about crediting his grandmother. “Grandma Helen was a ranch woman who cooked huge meals for our family, always had a beautiful garden and looked after all of us,” said Clouston, who employs 200 people in her restaurants.

“I grew up in a small rural town and grew up in a country lifestyle. Our meals centered around fresh barbequed steak, ranch beans, garlic bread, cookies and fresh vegetables. These rowdy barbecues included our family and friends, so great memories were created.

When Clouston followed her family to Cottonwood to live, she realized she yearned for the food she had been raised in in the style she loved. “Couldn’t find a restaurant with BBQ, cool bar and cozy dining room.”

Drawing on her experience in hotel interior design and her culinary memories, Clouston concocted Colt Grill. “I came up with ideas for the design and many menu items that come home to us from our residence in North Carolina. As a southerner, I know how much they love to make you feel welcome and serve really good food, and that’s what I wanted to do.”

The star of the show is the giant steel smoker. Clouston uses real hardwood to infuse dishes with rich, smoky flavor. Almost everything is smoked, including some desserts.

“We start the smoker around 6 a.m. and shut it down around 8 p.m.,” Cottonwood Colt Grill manager Kody Garratt said. “Our style is a walk-in grill. Customers come in, we give them the menus and they sit down in the dining room or on the terrace. People love the menu. We have customers who come here every day. There is nothing like it there.

Entrees such as beef brisket, smoked chicken, ribs, smoked turkey sandwich and wraps, specialty salads and fish and chips are a few items on the menu, and the salty barbecue sauce bar is a paragon of flavor.

With seven flavors listed from mild to hot, Garratt says the most popular barbecue sauce is Kansas City Blend. Others include Round the Campfire, Texas Tang, Desert Heat and Holy Habanero.

Cottonwood residents Michael and Lisa DuVernay call the veggie burgers phenomenal. “They’re made in-house and they’re really big. We never ate a whole one.

Camp Verde resident Becky Corban took her granddaughter to the Colt Grill for lunch and found her favorite restaurant. “We really enjoyed the atmosphere and the food was delicious. Highly recommend the veggie burger and sweet potato fries.

Colt Grill’s popularity could be boosted by Guy Fieri. “Guy’s producer called and said they could introduce us in the fall,” Clouston said. “What sets us apart is that everything on our menu is made from scratch and centered around slow, slow-cooked smoked meats, which results in extreme flavor.”

The Colt Grill is also a family affair. Brenda’s husband, Bob, a general contractor, built the restaurants and keeps the kitchens running smoothly. “Our daughter, Amanda (Mandy), does all the marketing, and our son, Carson, made all of our steel smokers.”

Clouston also thanks his staff. “We really have great employees. The work in the restaurants is extremely difficult and these people work very hard.

Grateful for the restaurants’ success, Clouston says she strives to keep prices low and give back to the communities where they do business. “We like to support local community events and try to help out as much as we can. It is important to me to know that we use our restaurant in a way that helps others.

Catering for weddings and events of all sizes is offered at The Colt Grill, with the option of full-service pickup, delivery and set-up. NBF

By V. Ronnie Tierney, FBN

Colt Grill restaurants are located in Old Town Cottonwood, Prescott Valley, Downtown Prescott and Oak Creek Village. For more information call 928-634-1140 or visit

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