Monster grills might be a status home accessory, but there are plenty of households with no interest in barbecuing an entire 12-pack of New York strip steaks.
The new darling of the barbecue department: the petite urban grill.
A grill that doesn’t take up a lot of real estate is good for townhouse decks, garden apartments and compact, concrete patios. Whether gas, charcoal or electric, the small grill is popular with new home buyers as well as downsizing boomers who are no longer hosting soccer team cookouts. At Lowe’s, there has been increasing demand from customers for higher-end small grills, according to Natalie Turner, a Lowe’s spokeswoman. Teeny-tiny portable grills are also sought after by campers, tailgaters and beach picnic organizers.
“There are lots of grills out there that are very, very big with multiple burners and features,” says Thomas Perez, president of the North American division of Bodum, a housewares manufacturer based in Switzerland. “We saw a need for grills for the urban citizen, someone who doesn’t intend to cook for eight people every night.” Bodum’s Fyrkat mini picnic charcoal grill (about $60) is 12 inches across and comes in red, lime green or black.
The Smokey Joe has been in Weber’s line since 1955. “Many times the 14.5-inch Smokey Joe is the first Weber grill a college student or young couple chooses,” says Mike Kempster, Weber’s executive vice president. Kempster says Weber’s small electric Q 140 grill, with its distinctive clam shell shape, has caught on with city dwellers whose buildings ban charcoal and propane tanks on balconies.
At Logan Hardware (1416 P St. NW), customers are asking for compact, affordable grills. “This time of year, we get a lot of people who are having a party and just want something small to cook on,” says Dante Lipscomb, a supervisor at the store.
About 86 percent of American households own a grill or a smoker, according to Leslie Wheeler of the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association. Some have multiple sizes. “What’s so cool about grills right now is that you can get a huge $10,000 grill that is bigger than some townhouses,” she says. “Or you can get a cute little grill that works perfectly well.”