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Smokehouse BBQ 52, RK Studios honored at Chelsea chamber annual meeting

Photo by Lisa Carolin. Phil and Jenn Tolliver, large business leadership winners, Chelsea Mayor Melissa Johnson, Monica Monsma, executive director of the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce and Randy Lee, small business leadership winner.

By Lisa Carolin

Local business leaders had the chance to interact and honor a few of their own at the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting Feb. 21 at the Village Conference Center at the Comfort Inn in Chelsea.

The 2018 honorees are Phil Tolliver, owner of Smokehouse BBQ 52, chosen as the Large Business Leadership award winner, and Randy Lee, owner of RK Studios, chosen as the Small Business Leadership award winner.

Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Monica Monsma was there to present the awards.

“Tonight makes us feel like all our hard work has paid off,” said Tolliver. “It fuels the fire to dig deeper and work harder. This is an opportunity to thank everybody because we didn’t get here alone.”

Tolliver, who opened Smokehouse 52 BBQ in downtown Chelsea six years ago with his wife Jenn Tolliver, has helped support Sounds & Sights on Thursday Nights as well as the Smoke & Ale Fall Festival. Michigan Best ranked Smokehouse 52 BBQ #7 on its Michigan’s Best BBQ list.

Tolliver said that when they started the restaurant, many questioned opening a BBQ place in Chelsea, but they have received a lot of support and opened a second restaurant in Saline last year.

Lee said that Chelsea has been a good fit for RK Studios LLC. He videotapes community events, Chamber events, city meetings and festivals and has owned RK Studios LLC since 2005.

“I’ve never been so flattered in all my life except for when my wife said she’d marry me,” he said. “This award adds validation to what I’ve done.”

The business leadership awards are given annually to chamber members that show leadership in providing services to the local community, contribute to the community’s economy, display innovative ideas and services, and demonstrate leadership.

The event was sponsored by Lake Trust Credit Union.

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