Tofino, Vancouver Island/Coast

Lil’ Ronnie’s BBQ

Tofino, Vancouver Island/Coast

Lil’ Ronnie’s is a true wood fire BBQ & live music restaurant. We provide a venue for people to enjoy delicious food while listening to a wide variety of live music.

30 Employees

In Business Since 2017

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Lil’ Ronnie’s BBQ has been nominated in the following categories:

Click on the banners to find out why they deserve your vote in each category.

Business Impact Award

What motivated you to start your business? Why are you passionate about what you do?

Ronnie Lee packed up his Jeep and made his way to Tofino in 2017 after sharing an inspiring phone call with childhood best friends, and future business partners, Matt Lynch & Joey Donnelly. Ronnie had traveled light, packing only the essentials: his best chef knives, a notebook full of original recipes, and a dream of opening a BBQ joint. New to Tofino, Ronnie made friends by cooking for the community weekly on Friday and Saturday nights. It wasn’t long until these cookouts grew larger — 100 people gathered in a backyard by the ocean to enjoy ribs, pulled pork and brisket. Fueled by the support of their community, Ronnie, Matt and Joey scraped together some savings to buy a secondhand smoker and quickly applied for the permits to use it. That summer was a whirlwind. His small team sold BBQ from a pop-up tent in the parking lot of the beloved Schooner restaurant. Ronnie cooked night and day in order to meet the growing demand for bbq. It takes two days to cook the perfect brisket. Someone has to be there to stoke the fire and watch the meats or else they just won’t cook. So, Ronnie’s days started really early. Throughout the night, he’d place a log on the smoker fire every 20 minutes, napping in the Jeep between logs. The next day while the meat rested, he would get cleaned up and open the tent to start selling the ready BBQ until it was sold out. This constant rotation repeated all summer long, but Ronnie wouldn’t have had it any other way. He knew every cut was cooked to perfection, and he was excited to meet and get to know each customer that came by. Ronnie has always loved cooking and sharing food with loved ones. He started out by the side of his mother & grandma, watching them cook and bake for hours, as they welcomed family and friends into their home on the East Coast. Now on the West Coast, it was Ronnie’s turn to share the warmth and love of woodfire, knowing that the high level of dedication, passion and human touch is what really set this style of cooking apart. Fast forward to 2021, and the team opens Lil Ronnie’s Beachside BBQ in Tofino, a brick-and-mortar location with one of the biggest outdoor patios on the Island. It’s at this time that the Lil Ronnie’s family begins to grow, welcoming several new cast and crew. Shannon and Jay, an ingenious duo, come onboard to help build anything and everything — including the new restaurant! They’re soon followed by the eager and out-of-the-box Chef Raph, and finally, Ollie, a multi-talented force.

Why do you deserve to win the Business Impact award?

The team at Lil Ronnie’s is small but mighty: they do a little bit of everything, above and beyond their first love of cooking bbq. These hard-working individuals embrace the challenge of entrepreneurship by drawing on their creative approach to event coordination and community investment. The Christmas Dinner Cook-off feeds hundreds of people each winter season, and is only getting mightier! In 2022, the restaurant aims to feed 2500 people, double their financial contributions to the local fire department, and work with Indigenous nations to provide meals and other resources. With summer right around the corner, Lil Ronnie’s is also going all-in with their music program. The stage is getting prepped for new boots and instruments to step onto it, as the team strategizes brand new event series that celebrate local musicians and bands. The music program will provide musicians with a platform (literally) to further their reach, experience and audience. Performers will be supported through paid opportunities, grants and bursaries for development, and photography & video content for their portfolios.

Premier's People's Choice

In under five years, Lil Ronnie’s Beachside BBQ has become a coveted gathering place in Tofino where connection, music, and culinary playfulness are celebrated. Ronnie’s humble beginnings were bolstered by the community he was welcomed into, so Ronnie and his team continue to place a lot of love into their bbq. They’ve got big plans to keep contributing to their Island community. With the 2022 summer season right around the corner, the restaurant is cooking up new special events that will draw more people to the area and support neighboring local businesses. And what would summertime be without live music?! The team is also planning to expand the music program, and committed to supporting new and returning local artists. Finally, Lil Ronnie’s is excited to welcome back their seasonal staff, and will focus on in-house training programs that support people to do the work they love: organize memorable events, cook incredible meals and innovate amazing ways for communities to come together.

Nominations and voting has now closed.

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