THE FOOD THAT MAKES AMERICA GREAT!
Wood Ranch has been rated as “Top Barbecue Spot” and also earned a Certificate of Distinction for receiving outstanding scores in both food and service in the Zagat Restaurant Guide Los Angeles/Southern California, America’s premier dining-out guide. Other awards include:
- “Top 10 Kids Menu in America,” – Restaurant Hospitality.
- “Best Barbecue,” – The Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Daily News
- “Barbecue King.” – Los Angeles Weekly
- “Best Steakhouse,” “Best Barbecue in Ventura County.” – The Ventura County Star
- “…High marks from locals for barbecue,” – The Wall Street Journal
THE STORY OF WOOD RANCH
In 1992, Ofer Shemtov and Eric Anders were each working more than 75 hours a week at a Los Angeles restaurant. After closing, they would relax by going to a movie and falling asleep right after the opening credits. As tired as they were and as hard as they worked, they knew that if they ever got the opportunity, they would open their own restaurant company – not just one restaurant — and make it better.
“Ofer found the location in Moorpark,” remembers Eric Anders, co-founder of Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill. “He called me and basically said, ‘This is it. Are you in?’ I said I was in.”
The two best friends signed the deal for the building and began renovating what used to be a failed barbecue restaurant.
“Well, there was that sort of working against us,” Shemtov recalls. “We didn’t really know if it was that the people in the market didn’t like barbecue or if it was that the food at the previous place was bad. In any case, we thought we could do better.”
That wasn’t the only challenge.
“A few weeks before we opened, we stood at the edge of the parking lot,” Anders remembers. “We counted the number of cars coming by between six and seven o’clock. Six cars. A total of six cars.”
But in 1992, New Los Angeles Avenue was not yet connected to the North 23 freeway. So, there wasn’t much traffic. Still, with a design budget of about $5,000, the first Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill opened that spring in Moorpark. Things turned much brighter.
“The community came out to try us,” Shemtov says. “They seemed to like it.”
The partners both worked at the restaurant and sometimes slept there.
“We were just so focused,” Anders says. “We had borrowed money from some family members and we were strongly motivated by fear. We did not want to fail.”
The Moorpark Wood Ranch continues to thrive.
“We felt confident that we could start a second restaurant and we found a similar situation in Agoura Hills,” Shemtov recounts. “It was another restaurant that wasn’t doing well.”
The Wood Ranch in Agoura Hills opened in 1995. Two years later, the company opened in Camarillo, right off the 101 north.
“Camarillo was a little more of a risk,” Anders says. “The population wasn’t as big there, but we knew it would grow and we felt it would be good to be there and grow with the community.”
In 1992, Ofer and Eric created Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill in Moorpark, CA. The restaurant, relatively small by today’s standards, became a great success in serving a community starving for good food and someplace to relax. Today, there are 15 Wood Ranch and 2 WR Kitchen & Bar restaurants serving Southern California.
ABOUT THE CO-FOUNDERS
Eric was born in Silver Spring, MD, and moved to California in 1986 to work in the restaurant business. Eric attended UCLA’s Anderson School of Business and earned his MBA in 1991. Eric met Ofer Shemtov while working at a local Los Angeles restaurant. That is where the idea for Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill was formed. Eric is the father of two children.
Ofer was born in Jerusalem, Israel, and moved to California in 1985 to work with family in the restaurant business. Ofer decided California was the place he ought to be, so he set off to find his own opportunities. After Ofer and Eric met and decided to open Wood Ranch, Ofer found the first location in Moorpark, CA, opening there in 1992. Ofer is married and has three children.