Meat is on the menu at Smokehouse 93. Pulled pork. Sliced beef brisket. Chicken or turkey. Pork sausage, even candied bacon can be found at the Columbia Valley’s latest slow smoked barbecue restaurant. Get it with coleslaw, jalapeño cheddar cornbread, smoked potato dill salad or smoker cheddar mac and cheese. Sides are as sumptuous as they sound, with fresh, homemade spice blends and sauces.
Hungry yet? If reading the menu isn’t enough to entice you to drive over to Smokehouse 93, the smells when you enter the building located near the Crossroads will be enough to make your stomach growl. The restaurant opened September 18th, with a full offering of southern-style cooking. Some of the menu items are a must-have at a barbecue joint, co-owners Steve Holliday and Brad Thompson assert.
“As far as I’m concerned, if you’re a barbecue place, you have to have mac and cheese, you have to have cornbread. You have to have the ‘slaw. The beans obviously, that’s a big thing. We knew what we needed to have on the menu,” says Mr. Holliday.
But what shines on the menu is the meat, smoked for anywhere from 12 to 18 hours in one of the restaurant’s six smokers out back. The secret to the smoking, expert Mr. Thompson says, is in the wood choice.
“We do a mix of oak, cherry, hickory. So you get a little bit of the sweet, a little bit of the robust flavour from the hickory. And it brings a nice mahogany tone on the meat without overwhelming it,” Mr. Thompson says.
Even the beans are not canned. And all the meat is above-grade Canadian cuts.
The reaction from customers has been phenomenal so far.
“I’m super excited about the support we’re getting, just from the local community itself,” says Mr. Holliday. “It’s kind of overwhelming the amount of positive feedback we’ve been getting … We’ve had several people from the southern States where barbecue is huge tell us it’s some of the best they’ve ever had. That’s a pretty big benchmark for us.”
The men first connected through Instagram. Mr. Holliday noticed that Mr. Thompson, who had recently moved to the Valley, was posting about his pastime of meat smoking. Mr. Holliday, who has a “strong passion for food” and a culinary background, reached out to ask about learning the fine art of smoking meat. The pair started hanging out and got along well. Originally, the plan was for them to travel the barbecue competition circuit together this year. Mr. Holliday and Mr. Thompson had both been working in completely different industries. But when they realized their combined talents made for one fantastic restaurant menu, they decided to take the leap, quit their other jobs, and follow their dreams. Mr. Holliday in particular had actually done chef training, but ended up working in carpentry for years.
“This is something I wanted to get back into, it’s what I’m meant to be doing,” he reflects.
For Mr. Thompson, the route to Smokehouse 93 began when his mom bought him an electric smoker about 15 years ago. He started backyard smoking and ended up competing in multiple barbecue smoking competitions. With the help of a welding friend, he even made a custom offset smoker that’s on display out front of the restaurant now.
The co-owners want people to know that you can stay at Smokehouse 93 to eat, or you can be in and out in five minutes on a rushed lunchtime.
“That was our big aha moment. We saw the need for fresh-cooked food, but that you can get immediately,” Mr. Holliday says.
The men have collaborated with other areas businesses for their offerings. For example, their maple ale bacon beans use Arrowhead stout and Stolen Church coffee beans. And they hope that is only the beginning of cross-company connections. Mr. Holliday explains that not only is he good friends with a lot of area business owners, he has seen how important it is to keep supporting local business.
“If you’re trying to be a community-oriented business, you have to have that level of support, from business to business,” he explains.
Not content to rest on their early restaurant success, the pair are working towards selling Smokehouse 93-branded sauces, spice blends, beef jerky, even trail mix soon. Once their liquor license is in order, the restaurant will offer Arrowhead brews on-site too.
Smokehouse 93 is also available for event / wedding catering, and have been at several area events already including one at Arrowhead, and offering samplers at the Hospice Society’s fashion night recently.
Smokehouse 93 is located on Hwy 93, just past the lights to turn into Invermere. They are open Tuesday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. (or until the meat runs out).
This story has been updated to reflect that Smokehouse 93 is not the only smokehouse in the Columbia Valley. Cabin Smokehouse, located at Panorama, has been open for three years. The Pioneer apologizes for this error.