110 N. 1st Street, Burbank, CA 91502
Years Won: 2021 (Best)
The Story of Wood Ranch®
A little more than 35 years ago, Eric Anders and Ofer Shemtov became friends while working 75 hours a week at a Los Angeles area 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 often discussed opening their own restaurant company and make it the best in town.
“We’re both fanatical about our guests’ dining experience,” says Anders. “We obsess over every detail of the business from our food and service to the most minor details.”
“Ofer found our original Wood Ranch location in Moorpark in 1991,” recalls Anders. “I’d just graduated from UCLA’s Anderson School. He called me and said, ‘I think this is it! Are you in?’ I said ‘of course.’” The two signed the lease for the previously failed barbecue restaurant and began the remodel. “We didn’t know why the other place before us failed,” says Shemtov. “And we didn’t care. We just had such a strong belief in ourselves.”
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 driving by between 6pm and 7pm. A total of six cars. Six!” In 1992, New Los Angeles Avenue wasn’t connected to the 23 Freeway yet. So, there wasn’t much traffic. Still, with a remodeling/design budget of $5,000, the two opened the first Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill restaurant in Moorpark.
“The community came out to try us,” Shemtov says. “They seem to love us.” The partners worked 100-hour weeks and sometimes slept at the restaurant.
“We were just so focused,” Anders says.
By 1994, the two founders felt confident they could open a second Wood Ranch location. They found a similar situation in Agoura Hills—another failed barbecue restaurant—and opened Wood Ranch Agoura Hills in 1995. In 1997, Anders and Shemtov opened Wood Ranch Camarillo, again, in a failed restaurant location.
Today, as Wood Ranch approaches its 30-year anniversary, there are 17 Wood Ranch restaurants serving Southern California, from Ventura down to San Diego. In addition to their busy dine-in business, Wood Ranch offers convenient curbside take-out. Wood Ranch Catering & Events is one of the most successful barbecue catering companies in Southern California serving both private and corporate events from 30 to 10,000 guests. Interestingly, Wood Ranch caters over 200 weddings each year. Wood Ranch has won numerous awards and accolades over the years from The Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Ventura County Star, Restaurant Hospitality Magazine, Wall Street Journal, San Diego Tribune, and Consumer Reports.
Today, Wood Ranch remains family-owned and employs over 1700 team members. Many of these team members have been with Wood Ranch for nearly the entire 30 years! Anders and Shemtov remain best friends and business partners and live only minutes apart with their families.