Barbecue is king at Carolina Smoke in Bothell

“Dear Customers: Life moves fast, that we know, but here at Carolina Smoke we like slow. If your wait seems long, just remember that we are not a fast food restaurant.”

Carolina Smoke's David Hayward.

“Dear Customers:

Life moves fast, that we know, but here at Carolina Smoke we like slow. If your wait seems long, just remember that we are not a fast food restaurant.”

Not hiding his true emotions at all, David Hayward makes sure his guests take notice of the framed saying that is posted inside his restaurant at Bothell’s Country Village.

Raised in Charleston, S.C., Hayward observed his mom cook and took an avid interest in cooking as a child. He never attended culinary school, but received his degree in graphic arts instead. While working for different companies in multiple jobs, he took one class involving barbecue and another in catering. As he would say, he created his barbecue passion all by himself. A year after moving to Washington, he continued to barbecue in the Marine Corps and later on in Vietnam.

Traveling from the South to the West gave Hayward the ability to test the different American barbecue styles.

“I learned what people like. People in the Northwest like their barbecue sweeter, while in the South, they like more mustard and vinegar,” he said.

After being a chef with the military for seven years, Hayward returned to Washington and began working for the city of Seattle.

Barbecue dreaming

Early in 2002, Hayward sat down with his friends, discussed his past success and began to devise a plan to create a catering business.

Like anyone starting their own business, funds were a definite factor in the process, but Hayward solved that problem when he won $100,000 in the lottery.

“My dream was to open a restaurant. I got lucky,” Hayward remarked with a smile.

Later that year, his dream became a reality when he began his catering business, Carolina Smoke, in Redmond. In the beginning years, Hayward catered on-site for numerous events, including one where he traveled across the water at 6 a.m. to start smoking for a wedding reception at noon on Vashon Island. Proving his dedication to barbecue, he slept in the back of a chuck wagon. He laughed, “It was a trip.”

Wanting to expand his business, Hayward took the offer from a friend to visit a vacant building located in Country Village. Soon after, he purchased the building and launched full force into catering.

Though Hayward’s shop started as a take-out business only, his customers had another idea.

“I wish I would have had my camera,” he remarked after seeing a line of people eating outside of the restaurant. But this is exactly what Hayward wanted: “I opened the place to be friendly and relaxing.”

Talking food

One thing people must know is Hayward’s disgust for grilling: “I hate … no, I despise lighter fluid. People have a misunderstanding of barbecue. Barbecue is low and slow, smoking meat at a low temperature for a long time.”

Swearing it tastes better, Hayward uses mesquite, hickory, alder and cherry wood pellets to add to the meat’s flavor. He takes pride in his meat, and promises, “it won’t be cut ‘til you order it.”

When asked about his charity fund-raisers, Hayward could not resist telling the story of a young man named Julian Larson. Larson played baseball with Hayward’s son, Branden, and when he was informed that Julian was diagnosed with leukemia, he said, “I knew I had to do something. In two days, I put on a benefit at QFC and raised a lot of money for Julian.” Perhaps it was the care and concern of people such as Hayward that gave Julian the hope and strength to persevere through his illness, and to this day he is healthy and loving life.

The moment people step foot in Carolina Smoke, they witness Hayward’s love for barbecue and friends.

“I try to talk to everyone who comes in. I walk around and say ‘Hi’. That’s just me,” he said.

Family cookin’

Since Hayward spends his morning, afternoon and much of the night at his restaurant preparing for the next day, he comes home late, much to the displeasure of his girlfriend, whom he coincidentally met at a barbecue competition.

“She’ll cook at home because she wants me to eat, but I like to create, do a lot of experimenting,” he said.

Surprisingly, there are a few non-barbecue items he enjoys, as well. “Yea, there’s a few out there. Shrimp, salmon — not smoked. I like to cook breakfast. I like doing my eggs,” he said.

When, and if, Hayward retires, his family business will continue to thrive with son Branden, who has already taken a fervent interest in barbecue, and enjoys cooking with his dad. Hayward stated, “He loves barbecue.”

Not only is his son involved in the family business, but his daughter, as well. Fifteen-year-old Mikaela was the hostess on the restaurant’s opening day.

Different — and bigger

“Everybody does barbecue different, I know I do it a lot different,” Hayward said.

Different is correct, as Hayward will introduce his new grill to the restaurant — “it triples in size.”

Not only will he have a much larger grill for a lesser wait time, but he is planning to change his menu in the fall, as well. “There will be more stews and soups,” he said.

Though the menu may be small, that’s the way he likes it: “I don’t want to have a huge menu. I brought tri-tip in one day as a special … it’s no longer a special, it’s an everyday option.”

Animals allowed

As the interview concluded, Hayward displayed his heart for animals, as a small dog bounded up straight to his feet. Immediately, he grabbed a bone and gave it to the pup, smiling, “dogs eat free” (perhaps the dog had been there before).

When asked what’s the best part about owning a business, he laughed and said, “I like seeing people smile. They’re happy, that means I did something good.”

You could say Hayward chose barbecue, but for those who know him, a better statement would be, barbecue chose him.

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Business

Bay Area bio-tech firm to open production plant in Bothell

Lyell Immunopharma is investing $50 million in a new manufacturing facility that will employ about 100.

BMW X3 xDrive 30e. Courtesy photo
BMW X3 xDrive 30e | Car review

With forces like BMW pushing, it’s only a matter of time before… Continue reading

2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT. Courtesy photo
2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT | Car review

OK folks, buckle your seatbelts. This week’s tester is the 2020 Dodge… Continue reading

Free ‘safe start’ supply kits for local businesses July 14

Small businesses can get free cloth masks, disposable masks and hand sanitizer

A new measure from the King County Council could increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas of King County. File photo
County measure would increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas

Staff report Legislation the King County Council passed June 23 could lead… Continue reading

Snoqualmie Casino is located at 37500 SE North Bend Way, Snoqualmie. Courtesy photo
Snoqualmie Casino reopens June 11 with social distancing, other safety measures

Staff report Snoqualmie Casino will reopen to the general public at 6… Continue reading

Like similar businesses across King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, Bothell restaurant Hana Sushi closed due to public-health concerns. Sound Publishing file photo
Inslee changes course, says diners won’t have to sign in

Restaurants may still ask customers for information that contact tracers could use to stop an outbreak.

Businesses, nonprofits asked to participate in COVID-19 impact survey

Regional effort in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties

Construction worker installs siding to a building in Snoqualmie. File photo
Inslee gives construction a green light

It was unclear when sites would re-open, but employees will have to have PPE and stay six feet apart.

Report shows severity of COVID-19 impacts on hotels nationwide

70% of employees laid off or furloughed, eight in 10 hotel rooms empty