Picture the scene: It’s August, right before dusk. There’s music playing in the background. Maybe it’s Brad Paisley or Rascall Flatts or Tim McGraw. Maybe it’s AC/DC or Creedence Clearwater Revival, or one of the bands that your dad loves and you grew up on. Speaking of your dad, he’s right over there, playing catch with your son. You smile to yourself, remembering a time — not so long ago — where he was throwing the ball to you.

You look to your right and you see your daughter; pouring the drinks, setting the table, making sure everything looks perfect. She smiles at you and, in that smile, you see the beauty of the woman that she’ll one day become. Speaking of beauty, your significant other is standing right next to you, making sure you don’t overcook anything. This person, your person, is the best part of any day.

And it is a perfect day. You’re with your friends and your family, the people you love most. You’re cooking outside, with a beer in one hand and a dry rub in the other. As George Strait sings about a girl who’s gonna Check Yes or No, you close your eyes and smile to yourself. These are the moments you live for. You flip the meat one more time and yell for everyone to find their seat.

It’s time to eat.

Those are the types of moments, the types of memories, that Grease Monkey BBQ Supply Store tries to help create.

Grease Monkey BBQ came from the mind of one man — Levi Harper. Harper is a Casper transplant, who moved from Riverton to the Oil City to continue working as a mechanic. Harper is, in every sense of the term, a “Wyoming Guy.” He likes working with his hands. He likes drinking beer. And he likes BBQ.

“I’m a welder mechanic by trade,” Harper said. “I work shift work constantly, so everywhere I worked left me with a lot of time off. Well, with that time off, I got into cooking. My girlfriend worked late, so I cooked for her and the kids.”

For Harper, cooking is his love language. Being able to put his time, energy, heart, and soul into something and then offering it to his loved ones — there’s no better feeling. And his favorite way to cook is, of course, to barbecue.

“What better way to cook than to smoke or grill?” he asked. “I love it. So I got really into barbecue and I’m the type of person that, when I get into something, I become obsessed with it. I want to be the best and I want to learn every nook and cranny.”

So, Harper said, he started watching videos. He started reading cookbooks. He studied up on the best types of grills and smokers to use. He also found out how many people across the country make their own sauces and seasonings.

“I learned that there are way more out there than what people can get at Walmart,” he said. “I didn’t even know about a lot of the locals at that point, because how do you know? So as I’m running around town shopping and looking for different seasonings, I’m like, ‘Man, I wish there was a store that you could go in and you could buy everything you needed, all in one place.'”

Harper thought about it for a little bit and then realized, ‘Well, what if I’m the one to open that place?’

So, that’s what he did.

Grease Monkey BBQ Supply Store opened in June 2022. Harper, alongside his girlfriend Trina and his mother Gina, turned his dream into a reality. They put months of blood, sweat, tears and, yes, BBQ sauce into the opening of the store. In the year since its inception, it has seen tremendous success for a variety of reasons. Harper was right in his assertion that people would want a place to get everything they need for that perfect barbeque. And aside from actual ingredients, that’s exactly what the supply store has. Grease Monkey offers a variety of sauces, seasonings, rubs, and marinades. In fact, it has over 220 different flavors — from local brands such as Pine Ridge, Mike Miner’s, J&D’s Cajun Kitchen, 4J-BQ and more.

Additionally, Grease Monkey offers a myriad of different accessories and utilities, all designed to create peak barbecue performance.

Grease Monkey offers everything one could need for that perfect barbecue, including grill grates, grill brushes, heat diffusers, side tables, rib hangers, various types of fuel (like white oak chunks, apple chips, hickory bundles and briquets), meat thermometers, grill covers and so much more. Grease Monkey even sells actual smokers for those who want to take their barbecue game to the highest level. The shop offers custom knives as well.

Local is important to Harper. Besides wanting to create a space for an all-in-one barbecue supply store, Harper also wanted to create a place that celebrates local businesses.

“I wanted to build a little store with all of these people that I built relationships with,” he stated. “I know these people personally. They’re small, family-owned companies, which is what I love to support. So I started talking to them and said, ‘Hey, if I get a store, can I carry your products?’ And they said, ‘We’d love for you to do that.'”

Harper and his team — the two most important women in his life — don’t just sell products. They offer guidance. They replicate the feeling of standing outside, next to a hot grill, flipping burgers and talking shop. Harper wants to know how your ribs turned out last week. Trina wants to know how your children are. Gina wants to make sure you have all of the accessories you need to create the perfect Sunday dinner. This cord of three strands is not easily broken, and they delight in helping others find that perfect BBQ.

“When people come in, I’m not like ‘Oh no, don’t buy a grill from Walmart, buy one here,'” Harper shared. “If you wanna go buy a Pit Boss at Walmart for $300 because it’s on sale, go for it. Give me a call and I’ll walk you through everything you need for it. I’ll even put it together for you if you want me to. I just want you to enjoy good barbecue. That’s it. I’m not in this to get rich; I’m in this to help the community learn about barbecue.”

Grease Monkey BBQ Supply Store is a celebration of all things local. It’s also a celebration of BBQ and the country that is known for it.

“I’m all about Made in America,” Harper shared, “and barbecue is classic American. It brings people together. There’s just something about barbequing — the smell and the atmosphere about it. And when people come over and they eat your food and they enjoy it, it just makes you feel so good. It’s a feeling that I’ve never had doing anything else.”

Harper understands the power of food and how it brings people together. Breaking bread together (or, in this case, ribs) is an age-old testament to the power and the beauty of community. Barbecue, specifically, is a type of food that begs to be eaten by a large group of people right as the sun sets in the horizon.

That’s what Harper and his two partners, his two favorite women, live for: feeding people and making memories.

“When I was a kid, I lived out in the country,” Harper shared. “We didn’t have people over very often because we lived in the middle of nowhere. We actually ended up building our house, so we didn’t see people a lot. But every summer, some friends from Casper would come out and they’d help out on the house for a couple days. We’d barbecue, they’d drink — it was a whole thing. And it’s just very memorable. I remember them working on the house all day and barbequing and drinking beers at night. I remember being a kid, trying to sneak a beer back to the tent. I remember those nights specifically. It’s just a good memory, about barbequing and people getting together.”

Barbequing and people getting together: That is the purpose of Grease Monkey BBQ Supply Store. It’s what Levi, Trina and Gina set out to create when they decided to open their shop. It’s what they try to offer every single day, whether they’re selling rubs and sauces, offering guidance on grills and smokers or telling people which knives work best. Harper and his team opened up Grease Monkey BBQ Supply Store to connect with their neighbors, to support other local businesses and to be a resource for the community of which they are a part. They’re here for advice. They’re here to help make memories.

They’re here for barbequing and people getting together.

To order products or to find out more about Grease Monkey BBQ Supply Store, visit its website or check it out on Facebook.

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