In addition to the regular pulled pork, chicken and brisket menu items, the new owners of Smokehaus BBQ at 717 Broadway in New Haven have introduced Mexican specialties on Friday nights. Every other Friday, customers can enjoy enchiladas and the following week fiesta salads of chicken, pork or brisket served in a fried tortilla taco bowl.
Owners Danial Tatum and Amy Mendez took over the operation March 11 only to find themselves in quarantine. “We saw what happened in Illinois and figured it was only a matter of time before Indiana would be doing the same thing,” Tatum said. ”Sure enough, it happened!” The restaurant was considered an essential business but couldn’t invite people inside. So, we quickly focused our efforts on developing a curbside clientele and in the process came up with family packs, which feed 4-8.
“We were really concerned about having to lay off the five part-time employees we had just hired the previous week. “Fortunately it went pretty well and we didn’t have to lay off the help. People liked our family packs so much that we’re going to continue to offer them,” he added. To find out what the family pack special of the day is, customers can check them out on Facebook and Instagram at smokehausbbq1.com.
Tatum is the head chef, and Mendez handles all the Mexican entrees. She prides herself in making the enchiladas, beans and rice from scratch from her own “secret” recipes. Tatum makes the sauces. They had been preparing food in their own kitchen for family and friends until the word got out and they began getting orders from businesses and factories. They’ve been catering weddings and parties for the past seven years. When they heard Smokehaus was for sale, they began investigating the possibilities of making a long-time dream come true. The dream also included a food truck, which has already been in operation a half-dozen times this spring.
With the exception of the new Mexican cuisine, the menu remains pretty much as it was with the previous owners. Their signature items, of course, are still pulled pork, chicken and brisket served in a variety of dishes along with baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese, coney dogs, rib tips and burnt ends. Then there are ribs, wings, soups, scratch-made sides and desserts that include monster cookies and pies.
“One of the biggest challenges during this time has been securing enough meat,” Tatum said. “We had to rely on Costco and Sam’s Club because our suppliers just didn’t have it. We were limited on the amount we could purchase at one time from Costco and Sam’s. In addition, it made our costs go up.
“Of course we presently have to operate at 50% capacity which is 50 people inside. Also, there’s no bar seating. The pandemic affected our food truck business because many of the events that had been scheduled months ago have been canceled.”
The Fort Wayne natives added a machine that makes strawberry sangria, mango Moscato and piña colada wine slushies. They’ve also expanded their beer choices. Plans include opening a taco bar and possibly installing a pavilion in back for outdoor dining. “Since this is a family restaurant,” Mendez said, “we’re also considering having live entertainment and open mic nights.”
The duo said they have not had a real opportunity to introduce themselves to the community because of the COVOD-19 pandemic, but are eager to welcome area residents to Smokehaus BBQ.