Summer’s here, and that means it’s time for grillin’. We thought it would also be a good time to catch up with celebrity grill designer Paul Teutul Jr. In April 2009, Paul Jr. had a falling out with his father and left the reality TV show “American Chopper.” Now he’s set up his own business, Paul Jr. Designs (www.pauljrdesigns), and his first project was not a motorcycle, but a redesign of the Coleman RoadTrip Grill (MSRP $230). SNEWS® spoke with Paul Jr. to find out why a dude who builds custom bikes has switched gears to build hardware for the great outdoors.
SNEWS: What sparked you to move into designing things other than bikes?
Paul Jr.: I was getting a little tired of doing the same old thing all the time, and then I had a parting of ways with (Orange County Choppers) and my father. I had a one-year non-compete, and I wanted to go in a slightly different direction. So I started a design firm (Paul Jr. Designs). I’m back in the business of designing motorcycles, but it’s not all that I’m doing.
SNEWS: So, of all the things you could design, why a grill?
Paul Jr.: There’s really no difference for me between designing custom motorcycles and designing a grill, or coolers or anything else. It’s really about how you take a product and make it better and more innovative, and that’s essentially what I did with Coleman.It’s a really good transition from motorcycles in my opinion.
SNEWS: Why so?
Paul Jr.: It’s kind of a male-oriented thing…and if you really want to get into it, the grill’s made out of metal, it runs on gas like a motorcycle, and the Coleman RoadTrip Grill is portable so it has two wheels like a motorcycle. So it has all these attributes, and you can do some design things that you’d do with a bike. And I just took it to the next level.
SNEWS: What were some of the changes you made to the RoadTrip Grill?
Paul Jr.: I said, let’s make the wheels a little better; let’s put on chrome hooks, instead of plastic, to hang the utensils; let’s put a nice chrome plate on top, almost like a dash; let’s put a thermometer in there, which we call the speedometer thermometer; and the slide-outs (side tables) worked well, but we beefed them up and added diamond metal plates, and chromed out the knobs a bit.
I also like that it’s functional. When I built custom motorcycles all these years, I have all these different themes I’ve done, but it has to not only look right for the theme, it has to be functional. I think we were able to do that successfully. It’s 22,000 BTUs, it cooks very well, and it has the thermometer on top, and the thing folds up and goes into the back of your car.
SNEWS: Can you make one that fits on a bike?
Paul Jr.: Yeah, sure. Why not?
SNEWS: What was it like working with Coleman?
Paul Jr.: It’s been phenomenal. It really was my first project outside of motorcycles, and it’s been hugely successful, which means a tremendous amount to me. I’ll tell ya, for the last decade I’ve worked with some of the world’s largest companies, and I’ve never worked with a company as good as Coleman. This is a big company that can move quickly, and they have great leadership, and that makes all the difference in the world. They make it happen and they’re about being innovative, being ahead of the curve and being able to get things done.
SNEWS: So, did you grow up grilling out a lot with your family? Is it just something you personally like?
Paul Jr.:I love to grill. It’s really all I’m good at when it comes to cooking — put some grill marks on it, make sure it’s cooked right, and serve it up. It makes it look like I can do something. I think that’s why all guys like grilling.
SNEWS: So, give me your menu when you’re grilling out? Are you a steak guy, a burger guy?
Paul Jr.: Yeah, I’m a steak guy. I’ll tell you what I did the other day — I threw some turkey legs on there, and they took a little longer, but they were pretty darn good. I’d never really grilled turkey legs before. I also like chicken wings, and I like to cook up sausage — you know the thin sausage that comes in a spiral? Yeah, I like to eat that while I’m cookin’ other stuff. And I like to throw a nice fatty ribeye on there.
SNEWS: So, what are you going to be designing next?
Paul Jr.: I’ve got some other stuff going on with Coleman. I’m not sure which thing we’ll be doing next, but we’ve worked on some coolers and other areas. Right now, I’m in the process of building out my new shop so that I can build motorcycles again, and in the next week, I’ll be building my first bike as Paul Jr. Designs.