Whiskey Hotel Barbecue’s grand opening is a smokin’ success


Pitmaster William Hendrickson stands at the service counter of his new restaurant, Whiskey Hotel Barbecue, located in Roscoe, Il.

 Spring is in the air, and so is the smell of good barbecue!

Stateline residents and barbecue lovers from all over the area flocked to the grand opening of Whiskey Hotel Barbecue on Saturday, April 20, 2024 in Roscoe, IL.

The line outside of Whiskey Hotel Barbecue during the Grand Opening. Photo: Ryan Nesheim

You can visit the new barbecue business at 5522 Elevator Road, the former location of Sabrosa's.

Currently, their hours of operation are from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Thursday - Sunday. 

The menu includes Daily Mains such as Meat Candy, Carolina Pulled Pork, and Beef Brisket. With the opening of the expansive new kitchen space, the menu now presents sides like smoky pork and beans, brisket elotes, Texas Walking Taco, and more! 

Whiskey Hotel Barbecue also offers specials that you're going to want to get there extra early for if you don't want to miss out on them, namely, their highly sought-after Dino Ribs, and half-chicken dinners.

The restaurant has a full catering service menu as well.   

Owner and founder William Hendrickson is an Army veteran and former history teacher who has always had a love and passion for smoking meat over an open fire.  He says the name "Whiskey Hotel" comes from his initials, W.H.,  in the NATO phonetic alphabet used by the Army.

The South Beloit resident describes himself as a barbecue evangelist, stating, “I think that it’s something people should be doing more of. It’s such a great way for friends and family to get together. There is something about live-fire cooking that is in our DNA.” 

Although it was always his favorite hobby, It was during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown that Hendrickson mastered the craft of meat smoking. 

He then decided to share his love for meat cooked over an open fire by bringing his skill and good barbecue to the Midwest. 

“That first year was a lot of hauling around tents and a rented smoker,” he states. The meat wizard first began slinging barbecue at county fairs and country music festivals. He adds, “Time went on and word of mouth paid off. People started talking and we started to get busy.”

Hendrickson’s next thought was that he needed a food truck, so he decided to have one built. When that project was delayed - not completed in the spring and not ready until the following fall - he decided to attempt something different. He decided to get out of selling exclusively at events and set up shop in a parking lot somewhere while the weather holds out. 

The Whiskey Hotel Barbecue team picked the right parking lot to showcase their talent. Last fall they set up their trailer in front of Schnucks on Hononegah Road in Roscoe and began smoking each quality cut of hand-trimmed meat in one of their three pits (including the impressive 1,140-gallon offset smoker named L-block) and began dishing out their meat magic. 

Owner and founder William Hendrickson and his two smokers. The Primitive Pit and L-Block.

Suffice it to say, customers couldn't get enough. The barbecue stand attracted huge crowds. “We sold out the first day in just two hours. The next day, we sold out in three hours. We did not cook small either.” 

When lines only got worse and longer, Hendrickson realized two things, that he was on to something, and that they were going to need a kitchen.

“I needed to find a kitchen close by, that could function to service the trailer. So began his search for the perfect commissary to serve as their kitchen space. When I got in here, I saw that it looked like a place that I could use,” Hendrickson says as he looks around the space that now serves as The Whiskey Hotel dining area,  which he and his team have completely renovated and remodeled. “I couldn't pass it up. We decided to go ahead and make it happen.” 

The Whiskey Hotel Barbecue team is grateful for their customer base in the Roscoe, Rockton, South Beloit, and surrounding areas. “The Roscoe area has been great to us, I couldn't be more thankful. I didn't know where we’d end up but being so clearly well-received here, I knew that this was the place.”

Hendrickson says this is only the beginning and there is plenty more for us to look forward to. In the future, he plans to be opening up for bar service and will have local beer on tap. The pit master plans to have a limited menu during bar hours that will include dishes like smash burgers, smoked fried chicken wings and smoked burgers. 

He also intends to hold cooking classes. 

One thing he is most excited about in the future is opening a barbecue supply store inside The Whiskey Hotel restaurant. He says, “It will be called Great Lakes BBQ Supply, and will have everything you need to make your own quality barbecue.” 

He adds, “Whiskey Hotel will always do it right, or not at all. I can't imagine ever selling barbecue that I'm not proud of. I think we are some of the best barbecue talent in the area, and we are always setting to bring our A game. There will never be a shortcut here.” 

To stay updated on The Whiskey Hotel’s daily specials and upcoming events, and to view their gallery of mouth-watering menu options, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram, or stop in to check them out yourself. After all, life is better with a side of barbecue! 

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