Swampy’s BBQ to build kitchen on Kennewick waterfront

Ron Swanby is putting down roots for his barbecue business at Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village, courtesy a $37,000 deal to buy a 4,631-square-foot sliver of land on Columbia Drive.

Swanby is partnering with Pipeworks LLC to purchase the site from the Port of Kennewick, which developed the wine-oriented visitor destination at 215 E. Columbia Drive, near the cable bridge.

Swanby was an early tenant for the food truck plaza, where he has both a food truck and a stationary smoker.

In April 2021, he asked the port to consider selling him land to develop a permanent kitchen. He said he needed to expand to turn Swampy’s BBQ Sauce and Eatery into a profitable business, calling it a do-or-die moment for the popular business.

The kitchen and dining area would let him operate at Columbia Gardens even when the food truck is making the rounds at other locations and catering events. He brought Swampy’s BBQ to the food truck plaza in early 2020, shortly before the pandemic took hold.

After a brief shutdown, he reopened in the outdoor environment. Revenue covered operating costs, but Swanby himself took no salary in 2020.

He intends to create a commissary kitchen that would be available to the food truck plaza’s other tenants.

The port agreed to accept his letter of intent to buy the site in January. The port held off selling the site while it developed rules to govern development at Columbia Gardens.

The port is using Michael Dale of Meier Architects Engineering as the “town architect” to review drawings to ensure the building design is consistent with the neighborhood.

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