By Patty Hutchens
When you have a passion about something, success can easily follow. Just ask Sean Smith and Katie Campbell, the owners of Smokesmith Bar-B-Que.
Sean and Katie, engaged to be married next year, have teamed up to create some of the best barbeque around. Sean worked in Montana before moving to Sandpoint, where he has worked in the human resource department of Litehouse. Katie is the former manager of the tasting room for Pend d’Oreille Winery and currently serves as the beer and wine manager for Winter Ridge. But creating wonderful food is where their passions truly lie.
“We both really enjoy creating simple, delicious food and sharing it with people,” Campbell said.
The two began their quest to open Smokesmith Bar-B-Que a little over a year and a half ago. Searching for the right fit to create their mobile food truck, Smith and Campbell purchased a white box truck in November 2019 and spent all winter and most of spring converting the truck themselves — relying on YouTube how-to videos for portions of the project — into what is now a full-service take-out restaurant.
Smokesmith Bar-B-Que opened July 7 on the grounds of Panhandle Animal Shelter in Ponderay, and their immediate success far exceeded their expectations.
“Everyone in Sandpoint and the surrounding area are always excited and supportive of new businesses,” said Campbell, and Smokesmith Bar-B-Que is no exception.
“We truly had no idea what to expect. It has been extremely humbling,” she said.
While Smokesmith has daily specials, it is widely known for exceptional beef brisket and pulled pork. Smith and Campbell smoke their meat onsite — a process that takes approximately 18 to 20 hours, with hard wood collected from the area, adding unique and mouth-watering flavors.
The couple recognized that opening a new business during a worldwide pandemic was quite scary, but they assured their customers that they abide by every sanitary measure that is required by Panhandle Health District and more.
“There are no self-serve condiments,” said Campbell, adding that they provide hand sanitizer to all their customers and have touchless transactions. “There are also no more than two people in the food truck at any one time.”
They encourage people to text or send a Facebook message if they would like to place an order ahead of time. Also, larger orders should be paid ahead of time to ensure a speedy process when picking up the order. “We are working on getting online ordering set up and should have that available soon,” Smith said.
Their pulled pork and beef brisket can be purchased as a “sammich” and is also available in quantities of up to and over 10 pounds if you want to take it home for a party or more. They offer creamy coleslaw, spicy baked beans and cornbread.
While the truck is at Panhandle Animal Shelter Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. (or when sold out), Smokesmith also does events downtown at MickDuff’s Beer Hall.
Like all good business owners, the couple has given a very appropriate name to their truck. “We endearingly named him Eddie,” said Campbell, referring to the iconic character Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation.
Smith and Campbell share that they have already hosted numerous catering events for anywhere from 10 to 200 people. “It’s an affordable, casual way to go,” said Campbell. “We do not do plated events; instead it’s a buffet style.”
With everything, including their unique spicy, honey sweet and Carolina vinegar sauces made from scratch, the menu offers something for everyone. And their macaroni and cheese? It’s not just for kids, it’s an adult favorite as well.
Smith credits the owner of Drummin’ Up BBQ in Coeur d’Alene with mentoring him during the process of formulating his business plan. “It’s been very helpful to have a mentor during this process,” he said.
Both Campbell and Smith are appreciative of the support they have already received in the short time they’ve been open and look forward to making friends with even more customers.
“It doesn’t feel real. We never expected it to be this popular or welcomed,” Campbell said. “We are extremely grateful.”
To see the full menu, go to Smokesmith Bar-B-Que on Facebook. You can also follow the food truck on Instagram.
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