The old Thai Sisters restaurant is being transformed in preparation for a sizzling summer of pulled pork, barbecued ribs, chicken, salmon and slow-fired brisket.
Mac Smith and Everett Brooks, co-owners of the new Fire Smokehouse and Grill, are busy stringing up masculine decor – just think Mason jars for light fixtures, a menu scrawled on a thick slab of slate and cast-iron skillets and fishing poles for wall hangings. It won’t quite be a man-cave, though; they plan to offer a $4 kids’ menu, and eventually hope to fence in the grassy lawn so kids can play safely while their parents feast. Opening day was May 27.
“It’ll be a casual, family-friendly kind of place with a rustic feel,” Brooks said. “We’re trying to work the place for the locals, where the locals feel comfortable to come and hang out.”
“We’ll be doing REAL barbecue, smoked traditionally, like what you’d get if you went to North Carolina,” he said, but with a Northwest twist, like using alder and fruit woods instead of traditional Texan mesquite to flavor the dishes. Sides like stewed greens and jalapeno cheddar cornbread add a distinctly southern touch. The menu will include rotating specials using seasonal local produce, and individual or large group platters to go.
Smith and Brooks said opening an eatery together has been a mutual dream ever since they worked together at the Outlook Inn, years ago.
“This has been our five-year plan for six or seven years,” quipped Smith.
When the Thai Sisters closed up shop and the place stood empty, they jumped at their chance.
“This was just the perfect place for a barbecue,” Brooks said.
“It’s on the edge of town, so people can smell the smoke,” added Smith. “Jorgen Harle, the blacksmith, built us a great big, beautiful smoker, seven feet tall with a 24-inch firebox.”
“Local restaurant owners have been unbelievably supportive, offered lots of advice,” Brooks said. “We’re doing something different, just giving (diners) another option.”
They’ll be starting with just barbecuing “to get our feet wet,” and the smoked foods will come later.
Brooks and Smith are both resident islanders, with kids in the local schools.
“I just bought a house … we’re not going anywhere,” said Brooks, who has cooked at Roses since 2002.
Brooks and his wife Tracey have three children: Sorel, 15, Shannon, seven and Casey, five.
Smith, whose Orcas Island work history has included Sunflower, the Outlook, Orcas Hotel, and most recently Ship Bay, is the father of Evie, seven and Gus, six.
Brooks, who catered “out of the back of Mac’s truck” last summer, serving the Orcas Island Community Foundation and the Orcas Montessori School, has become known among some islanders as “the crazy kilt guy with the tattoo,” because he sports a tattoo of a smoking barbecue grill on his left calf, and often wears a kilt in recognition of his Scottish heritage.
The duo gladly accepts offerings of fruit tree prunings or alder wood to fuel the grill.
For more information, call 376-5777.