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Clayton Restaurateur Mike Johnson Opens Sugarfire in Olivette

The smokehouse on Olive Boulevard features burgers, vegetarian options, desserts and more.

There's a new kid on the block in the Olivette restaurant scene: Sugarfire Smokehouse opened last week. The new restaurant, located in the former Dickie's BBQ space near Interstate 170, is the brainchild of Clayton restaurateur Mike Johnson and Carolyn Downs.

Johnson is the former owner of Boogaloo in Maplewood, Barcelona in Clayton, Momo's in University City and Cyrano's Cafe in Webster Groves, among others.

Sugarfire, 9200 Olive Blvd., is a mix of the barbecue world, along with burgers and vegetarian options, as well as the sweet side, with Downs' desserts. Johnson purchased a smoker cooker two years ago and said he spent the last six months after selling Boogaloo around the first of the year honing his technique, traveling to Texas, Memphis and elsewhere.

He's getting used to the open kitchen approach. “It’s not like you order something and something magically appears five minutes later. You can see something getting handled right in front of you, there’s no hiding anything.”

Johnson said his study leading up to opening included time training with Myron Mixon, a BBQ chef featured on cable in TLC's BBQ Pitmasters. He said he spent a week at Mixon's home in Georgia with Downs' husband learning at the feet of the master.

Johnson said people have asked him if the restaurant is part of a chain. The answer is no, and doesn't figure to change anytime soon. He credits the inquiries to the design work done by Joe Lemaster to create the restaurant's signage.

Food from Sugarfire will be available for pickup to clients of Naturally Fit. The new Clayton fitness studio is owned by Johnson's wife, Kimberly.

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