About Us - Grillers Hall of Flame (2024)

Grillers Hall of Flame: Barbecue history flavors this store
By Matt Bolch

Even if Gary Bertassi couldn't talk, you could see the passion in his eyes for the barbecue business.

Grillers Hall of Flame is located along a main artery in Indian Orchard, Mass.

But since he speaks just fine, in a raspy voice that suggests a past life as a radio announcer, let's allow the owner of Grillers Hall of Flame to take the stage.

"I like the passion that people bring to their backyard cookouts," says Bertassi, showing a visitor around his store. "It's good times and fun with family and friends rather than heating their homes, which can be an issue in New England."

Bertassi and wife Trena have owned Grillers Hall of Flame for 18 years, 17 of those along the main avenue in Indian Orchard, a suburb of Springfield, Mass. The store's playful name capitalizes on its proximity to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The couple make a formidable pair, running the store out of a 3,600-square-foot space, evenly split between showroom and basem*nt storage. Two part-timers including Gary's dad, Felix, round out Grillers' staff.

Merchandising takes on a playful tone at Grillers Hall of Flame with merchandise sharing space with a collection of barbecue memorabilia. What's even more amazing is that the tight showroom shares space with another of Gary's passions - barbecue memorabilia. Ancient hibachis sit atop displays. Old aprons and an antique Barbeque Bash Barbie doll hang on slat walls next to the exact-fit replacement parts. A vintage unused Kenmore smoker sits on the showroom floor next to a current gas grill.

"We make real good use of our space," Bertassi says. "We use every little bit of space that's available."

Take one step into Grillers, and you know that barbecue is king here.

"We started with both hearth and barbecue, but hearth dominated our sales volume for the first few years," Bertassi says. "With grills and barbecue parts and accessories, there wasn't a lot of competition in the beginning years. We made a point of stocking exact-fit parts, which established our store in the market."

Hearth vendors include Regency and Waterford brands from Fireplace Products International, Heatech, Osburn, Morso and Mendota Hearth. In "usual" years, grills and accessories comprise 70% of store sales, with hearth taking the rest. But last year, with a soft grill market and stronger-than-normal hearth sales because of Y2K concerns, the percentages were even, Bertassi reports. In a good year, the store will sell 400 grills, including table top models. In a so-so year, that number drops to between 200 and 300.

On the hearth side, Grillers stocks Regency and Waterford brands from Fireplace Products International as well as Heatech, Osburn, Morso and Mendota Hearth. Among grills, the store carries Napoleon, Ellipse from Harpco, Vermont Castings, Ducane, Modern Home Products, Beefeater, Pacific Gas Specialties and Enviro Grill. The Grill-4-All from Kristline is the best-selling table-top at the store, which doesn't carry brands found in mass merchants.

Grillers also features an impressive array of barbecue accessories, including rubs and sauces from companies that have won awards from the National Barbecue Association, a variety of cookbooks and tools as well as grill covers from Grillfitti, the company Bertassi bought earlier this year with Ralph Taylor of Gas & Grills in Canton, Ohio.

Grill vendors include Vermont Castings.
In selecting hearth and grill vendors, Bertassi's relationship with company reps often seals the deal. "It really comes down to reps who'll look out for my business and not the company's," Bertassi explains.

Grillers Hall of Flame is not a discounter. Products sell close to suggested retail, and extras such as grill delivery and set-up are just that - extra. And throwing in a promotional cover as a bonus denies the company of an accessory sale and the customer of a quality product, Bertassi says.

The company's ads tout the expertise. Radio is the most-effective medium, Bertassi says, but Grillers also uses billboards and television.

Bertassi says he's thinking of leasing larger quarters or perhaps even buying another location, but it will remain in his hometown. "Many people don't know our name - we're known as that place in Indian Orchard." Ideally, he'd like to double the size of the current location, with ample storage space and enough room for an expanded barbecue museum.

The store features award-winning sauces and rubs.
The hatrack at Grillers has to be huge to accommodate Bertassi's varied interests. In addition to the retail and curator hats, he also still services longtime customers of his chimney sweep business. And then there's his hobby publishing business with The Backyard Barbecuer News, an 11-year venture that publishes two or three times each grilling season. The newspaper is self-supporting through advertising and is distributed free to more than 300 outlets in western Massachusetts, northern Connecticut, southern Vermont and part of New Hampshire.

And then there's Grillfitti, the grill cover company Bertassi bought with Taylor and Grillfitti founder Maureen Shepperd. The company was previously owned by Paul Vizzini of Aqua Pools and Spas in Phoenix.

Bertassi started repping the line a couple of years ago, and when Vizzini wanted to sell, Bertassi added a manufacturer hat to the hatrack.

Plans for Grillfitti are to expand the base of specialty retailers that currently carry the product and then capitalize on the company's current popular designs, while adding new ones. "We intend to first concentrate on our specialty retailer base before we again solicit OEM work," Bertassi says, referring to making covers for grill manufacturers. "We want to work with specialty retailers to give them something special that will not be sold in mass merchant outlets."

And that something special is what sets Grillers Hall of Flame - and the Bertassi's - apart from local competitors.

"I still have a tremendous amount of energy, but a lot of it is fun for me," Bertassi says of his varied interests.

About Us - Grillers Hall of Flame (2024)

FAQs

About Us - Grillers Hall of Flame? ›

Bertassi and wife Trena have owned Grillers Hall of Flame for 18 years, 17 of those along the main avenue in Indian Orchard, a suburb of Springfield, Mass. The store's playful name capitalizes on its proximity to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

What grill is made in the United States? ›

American Made Grills offers three lines of luxury USA-made grills - Hybrid Grills, Estate Grill, and the Atlas Grill. American Made Grills was born out of a passion for crafting inspired products that tell a story and animate the backyard.

Why does my gas grill flame up so much? ›

Well, it's simple - fat. Flames rise and burn the food when fat drips onto the coals or burners. This is why flare-ups are most commonly caused by dripping fat, oil, or marinade. But they can also be caused by leaving the lid open when searing fatty foods or even grilling on windy days.

Why does the bottom of my grill catch on fire? ›

These bursts of intense flames are caused by oil or fat dripping off of food and hitting the coals, essentially causing a grease fire. They tend to occur soon after food is placed on the grill or once it's been flipped.

Are Weber grills now made in China? ›

Weber grills are manufactured in Palatine and Huntley, Illinois, but some parts and components are made in China before being assembled in Illinois.

Which is better, Napoleon or Weber? ›

You are more likely to find more cooking space in Napoleon models. This means you can cook for large parties or a big family with ease. While both brands have burners with comparable heat output, it's common to find one or more extra burners in Napoleon grills. This means more heating and versatility when cooking.

Who makes the best BBQ in America? ›

Arkansas has the 'top' barbecue restaurant in America, according to Yelp
  • Wright's Barbecue – Johnson, Arkansas.
  • Eric's Family Barbecue – Avondale, Arizona.
  • CorkScrew BBQ – Spring, Texas.
  • Tyler's Barbecue – Amarillo, Texas.
  • Fox Smokehouse BBQ – Boulder City, Nevada.
  • Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que – Kansas City, Kansas.
May 9, 2024

What type of grill gives the best flavor? ›

Some grilling and barbecue enthusiasts feel the hardwood lump charcoal has the best flavor. Although kamado grills excel as an extremely hot heat source, the versatility of cooking on them makes them appealing.

Which grill makes food taste better? ›

Charcoal: Charcoal delivers the flavor, but only if you work with a lower heat. High heat means your food won't be on the grill long enough to take in the smoky taste without becoming burned or overcooked.

How often should you clean your grill? ›

"The good rule of thumb is for every five to seven cooks, clean your grill," says Kevin Kolman, head grill mater for Weber. You should clean the grates of your grill immediately after every use, while the grill is still hot. Protect your hands by wearing gloves when you clean your grill.

How can I make my gas grill last longer? ›

BBQ Maintenance Tips to Extend the Life of Your Grill
  1. Choose the Right Tools. Grill maintenance cleaning can be made much simpler with the right tool. ...
  2. Start and End It Hot. ...
  3. Use Cooking Oil Safely. ...
  4. Use Aluminum Foil. ...
  5. Cover the Grill. ...
  6. Store the Grill. ...
  7. Clean Out the Burners. ...
  8. Work With a Professional to Maintain Your BBQ.
Jul 13, 2021

Will a grease fire ruin a grill? ›

You can still use your grill after a grease fire, as long as there has been no damage to the grill itself. Before using it again you will have to properly clean it, but first make sure there are no remaining flames!

How do you make a grill fire last longer? ›

Open the Lid

Some pitmasters assume that opening the lid will make their burn charcoal burn faster because it fuels the fire with more oxygen. In reality, opening the lid causes charcoal to burn slower by allowing some of the head to escape. If you keep the lid closed, heat will remain trapped inside your grill.

How to prevent a grill from flaming up? ›

Keeping your grill clean and maintained will help prevent the dreaded flare-up. Food residue and old grease are both great fuel for a fire, so removing debris after each use is important.

What is the most common cause of grill fires? ›

S Mechanical failure or malfunction is by far the leading ignition factor for grill fires. Each year, the fire service responds to an estimated 6,500 grill fires. These fires account for 150 civilian injuries, less than 5 civilian deaths, and $27.6 million in property loss (Figure 1).

Are Weber grills still made in the USA? ›

Made In The Heart Of America. We were proudly founded in the USA. It's where we created the kettle grill in 1952 and our famous Flavorizer bars in 1985. We may be a global brand nowadays, but we still design, manufacture and discover new grilling possibilities right here in the USA.

Are any griddles made in the USA? ›

Established in 1992 in the heart of the Rocky Mountains of Montana, Rocky Mountain Cookware, Inc. manufactures and ships carbon steel, die-stamped griddles and broilers to restaurant supply and equipment dealers as well as sporting goods, camping and outdoor outfitter stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Are Pit Boss grills made in the United States? ›

100% All-Natural

Get a hotter, cleaner burn with Pit Boss pellets for natural, wood-fired flavor. No additives. Manufactured in The USA.

What gas grills are not made in China? ›

Which Grills are Made in the USA?
  • Alfresco - Manufactured in Southern California. ...
  • Alturi by Summerset.
  • American Outdoor Grill (AOG) - Manufactured by RH Peterson. ...
  • American Muscle Grill - Manufactured by Summerset under their American Made Grills Brand.
  • Artisan.
  • Broilmaster.
  • Challenger Designs.
Dec 2, 2020

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