For many, a quintessential part of summer is the outdoor cookout. Regardless of preference for a barbeque, grill or smoker, the drool-inducing smell of outdoor cooking is undeniable and invokes nostalgic memories of warm summer evenings spent with family and friends.
Elevating the experience is the right equipment for your distinct needs and cooking style. That’s where the city’s best-kept secret, Airdrie Backyard & Leisure, comes in as the go-to spot for everything to make your outdoor space the envy of the block.
“There are quite a few Facebook groups, even here in Airdrie, where people gather to discuss smoking, barbequing and all sorts of related things,” said Airdrie Backyard & Leisure co-owner Dave Petek.
Offering an extensive variety of barbeques, smokers and griddles for every budget, Airdrie Backyard & Leisure’s knowledgeable staff is eager to ensure each customer leaves with the best product for their individual needs.
“We offer five different brands of smokers and seven brands of barbeques. But as far as fuel types, we have natural gas, propane, pellet, charcoal/offset and electric. We have kamado style smokers, we have vertical smokers, we have kettle smokers,” Petek said. “So you can see the huge variety from the combination of fuel sources, brands and types.”
The seemingly-endless selection doesn’t stop with the smokers as Airdrie Backyard & Leisure currently has more than 60 barbeques in its 6,000-square-foot showroom.
The distinct tangy flavour of sweet, smokey, acidic and spicy elements of elevated outdoor cooking is achieved through a combination of the fuel source and seasoning.
“The fuel certainly can give you some flavour. Charcoals or wood gives you a distinct flavour, and then the pellets are flavoured as well,” Petek said. “And then you get more of your flavour from the rubs and sauces you’re putting on it.”
Airdrie Backyard & Leisure currently carries an extensive variety of pellet flavours from whiskey to pecan to peach to hickory to a pizza blend, along with oak, cherry and maple. With the largest selection of fuels, rubs and sauces in town, you are sure to find the flavour profile of your dreams.
Included in the store’s massive selection of seasoning options are three brands that have the distinction of being North American barbeque champions. One such line is Motley Que created by Edmonton’s own Joe and Jesse Semack. Their Sticky Fixx sauce took home the top prize at 2021 American Royal World Series of Barbecue.
Offering local and Canadian-made products is important to Petek and fellow co-owner Bill DeLay.
“I think it just makes sense with all the globalism that's going on that we support our local Canadian manufacturers as much as can,” Petek said. “Whether it’s the bigger manufacturers or a local artisan who is making us log splitters or firepits or, of all things, we actually have grain-elevator birdhouses that are made by a local fellow…We just think it's important to do as much as we can locally.”
Supplying locally-made products not only offers consumers options they are unlikely to see elsewhere, but the relationships Petek and DeLay have fostered with these makers and distributors gives them a level of knowledge you just won’t find at a big box store.
“When people come in here, what they can expect is two fun guys who are going to try and be very helpful to people. We're not going to crowd them,” DeLay said. “We're going to tell them as much as we know about barbequing, hot tubs, e-bikes, etcetera. And they're not going to be wandering around lost, looking for some help.”
Not only does Airdrie Backyard & Leisure have a selection that is beyond compare, but it also offers repair services.
“If you need a barbeque repaired, we can do that. If you need an e-bike repaired, we can do that. I think that's what distinguishes us from the big box stores,” Petek said. “And we're also providing all the knowledgeable help, not just, 'Can I help you get that on your cart?'"
Carrying a variety of hot tubs from Maples Spas – which manufactures its spas in Canada – and Passion Spas, Petek and DeLay made sure all the models offered at Airdrie Backyard & Leisure are made to withstand the harsh Canadian winters. The hot tubs have extra insulation and heat recovery processes that utilize the heat generated by the pumps and motors.
“We have over a half million dollars' worth of inventory right now,” Petek said. “Over the last couple of years, supply chain issues have resulted in a lot of people waiting for eight, 10, 12 or the longest I’ve heard of is 14 months for delivery. We made a point of working with our suppliers and getting allocations so that we don't have to wait in these long queues for product.”
Available options range from smaller tubs with seating for three to larger tubs suitable for eight adults. The variety of features is also impressive with different colour options, built-in lounge chairs, built-in stereos, LED lighting, volcano jets and Wi-Fi capability.
“If my grandson – who loves swimming in the hot tub – is coming over, we shouldn't be putting children in at 104 F. We need to lower the temperature and I could do that right here from work,” Petek said.
Of course, the leisure portion of Airdrie Backyard & Leisure is also impressive with around 40 e-bikes, a cabin/backyard office and garden shed currently displayed in the showroom. Additionally, the store carries a variety of inflatable stand-up paddle boards, mobility scooters, custom garden sheds and even a line of coolers that will store ice for up to 10 days.
With all that Airdrie Backyard & Leisure has to offer, it’s no wonder the store is quickly becoming a local favourite.
“The fact that there's a store that they've never seen anywhere else, with this variety and this selection of backyard and leisure products, they're just amazed that it's sitting right here in Airdrie,” Petek said of the reaction from customers. “It's Airdrie's best-kept secret. We’ve only been around for a month and every day we hear, ‘So-and-so told me I had to come by and have a look.’”
See what all the excitement is about at #107 51 East Lake Ave or abyleisure.com