NEW HARTFORD — A new wood-smoked barbeque restaurant, SmokeKing, opened on Route 44 in New Hartford at the end of July.
The restaurant’s menu focuses on the fusion of American and Asian cuisine.
The owners of the restaurant, Steve Garrett and Elaine Chao, first opened the barbeque establishment on July 21 and have seen a steady stream of customers since from both dine-in and takeout orders.
Patrick Garrett, who has worked with the owners on previous restaurants in both Connecticut and Colorado, is the manager of SmokeKing.
Garrett said that the overwhelming reaction from the community to the food and restaurant has been positive since their opening two months ago.
“We get a lot of positive feedback on New Hartford Chatter and all those pages,” Garrett said to The Winsted Phoenix. “We have had a lot of good feedback from everybody, and a lot of criticism, which is what we need to keep us on our toes.”
The staples of SmokeKing’s menu are barbeque and brisket dishes, as well as pulled pork, pork belly bao, chicken, and smoked ribs. The restaurant also boasts a rotating blackboard menu including a southwest salad, crab rangoons, and fire wings. Garrett says determining the demand for different items on the menu can be a challenge day-to-day.
“When you walk into the restaurant, we have this big blackboard with all the specials that we have,” Garrett said. “What we’re finding is some days we’ll kill it on barbecue, and we’ll sell maybe 50 to 60 pounds of brisket, but then there are other days where all we sell is pho and all our Asian items. So it’s cool because there’s a little bit of a difference in it.”
While the restaurant was originally set to start-up seven months ago, its opening was delayed due to complications from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since their late July opening, the store has still faced some obstacles due to the changing pandemic.
However, the state-approved an expanded outdoor dining patio for the restaurant that was denied to previous tenants in the space, and the seating will remain available in the future.
With the small number of seating options inside the restaurant due to its size, the outdoor seating has been a large help for expanding the kind of orders SmokeKing receives. Currently, 60 to 70 percent of orders from the restaurant are takeout, and the demand for pick-up has been so high that on one occasion, Garrett had to turn takeout patrons away.
Looking forward, SmokeKing hopes to find another space for a central kitchen (given their current limited space) to expand their menu and bandwidth, as well as to partner with other local businesses like the nearby Brewery Legitimus.
“We’re just happy to be open and the community is awesome,” Garrett said. “It’s hard for a small business like us and all these other places with wintertime coming: we’re not going to have our outside seating so we’re going to see a lot more takeout. That’s why we’re trying to promote each other’s businesses.”
For more information go to facebook.com/SmokeKingCT/
All pictures via SmokeKing’s Facebook page