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Southern-style barbecue restaurant to open this summer

Published on

Cathy Dobson

A new restaurant specializing in southern barbecue is preparing to open in August and holding a job fair next week.

James Currie, co-owner of Smoke & Spice, says he’s looking for 55 employees including kitchen and wait staff.

“We’ve already hired our general manager and assistant manager plus three other key employees,” said Currie.

He will be holding on-the-spot interviews for those who show up with resumes at the Holiday Inn July 10 and 11 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Training starts August 1.

The new restaurant will be located at the former Montana’s restaurant site on Exmouth Street, where major renovations are ongoing.

Currie and his silent partner are spending about $650,000 to remodel the 176-seat dining room and bar, purchase new kitchen equipment and install two smokers.

Currie, who lives in Barrie, Ont., has many years experience in the restaurant business and most recently was director of operations for Mr. Greek restaurants in Toronto.

“I’ve done everything in this industry from cooking to purchasing,” he said. “I’m a restaurant guy and I know food.”

While with Mr. Greek, he met his business partner and decided he wanted to work for himself.

“I’ve always wanted to own my own brand and have the creativity of my own business,” he said.

A short time later, he ate at Windsor’s Smoke & Spice Southern Barbeque, an independent restaurant operating for the past eight years.

“I took one look at my rib and chicken wing combo and called my wife to tell her I had found our restaurant,” said Currie.  “I didn’t even have to take a bite. I knew that this was the quality and the friendly family environment I was looking for.

“Besides, it smelled so good.”

In January, Currie and his business partner bought the Windsor location and the recipes for Smoke & Spice original barbecue sauces and rubs.

They immediately looked for a place to open a second location in southwestern Ontario and leased the Sarnia property in May. Currie said Sarnia is a good fit for Smoke & Spice because of the city’s size and demographics.

“Smoke & Spice is not a big urban brand,” he said. “It is a blue collar, small town restaurant where people want to come in and have a beer at The Hog Bar and the kids want to order from the Little Piggy menu.”

Renovations have moved slightly slower than anticipated because the plumbing of the vacant building had frozen, but Currie expects Smoke & Spice will be ready to open its doors in mid August.

Virtually everything on the menu focuses on meat prepared in a maplewood-fired smoker.

“There’s literally not one product that isn’t in the smoker at one point,” said Currie.  “Even our homemade meatloaf is smoked, as well as the tomatoes and onions for our salad dressing.”

The menu features items like the Hillbilly Philly beef brisket sandwich with chipotle mayo and provolone cheese for $15.99.  Sides include barbecue beans, cornbread, potato salad, fries and more.

There’s chicken that’s brined, rubbed and smoked and sells for $19.99 for a double breast or $13.99 for a single breast.  A full rack of St. Louis cut spare ribs is $27.99 while a third of a rack is $16.99. Combos sell for $22.99.

Appetizers like Redneck Nachos or Baja Fish Tacos start at $8.99 and salads like a Tex Cobb Salad or Classic Caesar with chicken are $12.99 to $17.99.

Opening day for Smoke & Spice Southern Barbeque is tentatively set for Aug. 15.


Got an interesting business story?  Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or call 226-932-0985. 




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