Steele Barrel BBQ Finds Success With Food Truck


After opening their food truck for weekend take-out in November, Steele Barrel Barbecue has become a well-known staple for residents with a hankering for a smoky or saucy treat. 

Selling around 300 pounds of meat per week on average, Steele Barrel Barbecue at 1506 W. Yelm Ave.,  has plenty of options to satisfy meat lover’s cravings. 

The business features a large selection of barbecue items, which include brisket and pulled pork. That includes their enormous breakfast burritos, the loaded mac and cheese and fries, and sandwiches. There are also hamburgers available on the menu. Everything made at the food truck comes from scratch, which is a point of emphasis for the food truck.

Some of their specials include ribs, brisket chili, white bean chili and chicken thighs. Business owners Steele and Ksea Clayton also expect their triple berry cobbler to be a big hit. 

“We’ve had enormous success in my opinion,” Steele said. “We weren’t quite sure how things were going to turn out. Our first event was doing a pumpkin patch, which is hard to tell because it’s such a high volume. We saw around 500 people in two days and we wondered how that would translate to the parking lot location. We’ve been busier than we imagined and that’s led to us opening on Thursdays.”

Steele said when he first opened his State Farm office, he wanted to make sure he had something that was more than a career to him. 

“I thought about what my children would say about me after I’m gone, and I realized the most important thing that a business owner can do, is how they impact their community,” he said. “When it comes down to the opportunity to give back, it’s always on the forefront of everything I do.”

That community-based mindset was continued when he opened Steele Barrel Barbecue with his wife, Ksea. The food truck can be found at numerous community events, including the Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally. Both Steele and Ksea said the rally is one of their favorite events of the year. 

“I love the people at the Barbecue Rally. There’s so many people, and everyone is happy and there for the same reason,” Ksea said. “Whether it’s the ice cream, or the food, or the people, everything about the Barbecue Rally is just fun.” 

Steele said he likes the event because it serves as an opportunity for a variety of different organizations to come together for a collective effort. 

“Anytime the community comes together for an event of that scale is always inspiring and awesome to be a part of,” Steele said.

As part of its community-first motto, Steele Barrel Barbecue cooked the 3A State Champion Tornados a steak dinner in collaboration with Stewart’s Meats following their win in December.

Steele said they are currently in the process of remodeling and designing the interior of the building behind the food truck, which was formerly the Cattleman’s restaurant. The building will be used for a reservation only steak and seafood restaurant once it is ready. 

“We’ve listened to the community and there is a need for a steakhouse. We’re looking at doing a steak and seafood, reservation only restaurant on the inside,” Steele said. “We’re passionate about all types of food groups and barbecue is just one of the things we do. I think it would be nice having a steak option in town.”

While they would love to open the doors to the steak and seafood restaurant as soon as possible, Ksea said they have experienced some supply issues through shipping, which she said have taken longer than expected. 

Since opening their food truck, the duo said they took on the challenge with a full head of steam. They’ve made the most of their transition from catering to the food truck, but still offer catering services. 

“With catering, you’re making mass amounts and packaging everything up,” Ksea said. “There is a lot of technique and skill required there. With the food truck, it’s taken me some time to adjust because of the pace of it.”

Steele said they are working to dial in their routine at the food truck. 

“We have such a great team. We are just surrounded by really wonderful people on both sides of the operation,” Steele said. “We couldn’t do what we do without our team.”

Steele and Ksea said they take pride in presenting customers with delicious, home cooked meats. Steele said cooking his meals is like a math equation in order to ensure each customer is satisfied with their meal. 

“If you’re going to look at food as a math equation, it’s the sum of every ingredient that you put into it,” Steele said. “If you’re using substandard ingredients, you cannot deliver a superior product at the end. We spend a little bit more on what goes into our food to make sure the final product knocks people’s socks off.” 

People can contact Steele Barrel Barbecue at or they can visit their website at yelm for inquiries.  

The food truck is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.