EASTON — An Easton barbecue restaurant has been forced to close their doors for the time being. The smell of brisket, St. Louis ribs and hickory and apple wood has come to a temporary end.

The Great Shoals Smokehouse, which has been open for eight years, is looking for a new place to set up business because the landlords are repurposing the Easton restaurant’s current space on Harrison Street.

GS Smokehouse’s Facebook page said, “We are sad to announce that after just short of 8 years, we closed our location at 137 North Harrison Street, Easton, February 10, 2021.”

Montia Rice said, “I am the owner, the chef and the dishwasher. I am a self taught with barbecue. 28 years worth of self teaching.”

Although his business was moved by other forces, he remains upbeat. He’s definitely a glass half full kind of man.

“The building was sold. The new owners originally thought they’d be able to share some space, but then they expanded what their plan was. So they didn’t have room for us,” he said.

“So we are out looking for another place right now. We have a few things we are looking at right now and I think in the next couple of weeks we will probably be there,” he said.

There were a lot of equipment and containers and pots and pans to move. Some of his staff is helping him load up the trailer and tow it away. “So we are just putting things away and washing things while we settle on the new place. We do plan on staying in Easton. Our base is here in Easton,” he said.

He said they are looking for a 1,200 to 1,500 square feet of space so they can have inside and hopefully outside dining. They want to keep the format the same.

“We do traditional barbecue with wood fired cookers. So we have to have a place where we can do that outside,” Rice said. “We do specialty smoking for people. All winter we have been doing a lot of wild game for hunters. So we are pretty broad in our ability to serve our customers. Salmon is one of our biggest sellers. We do a salmon from the Faroe Islands northwest of Scotland. We did a lot of research and we really felt that was the best product for the market,” he said.

Like other restaurants, the smokehouse has been impacted by COVID-19, changes in consumer behavior, social distancing rules and government-imposed capacity limits.

The new owners of the barbecue restaurant’s space are sticking with food but in a whole new context. It is going to become a test kitchen.

“The new owners are a restaurant equipment supplier. There will be stations. They will have a test kitchen so they can bring chefs in to test their equipment to see if they can recommend it to their owners. It is not going to be open to the public. It is only going to be for their customer base,” he said.

“It is a very large business because they deal with franchises such as Marriott. Big, big, big worldwide places. So when they sell a stove, they might sell 1,000 of them,” he said.

“We are humbled by the support that all our customers and friends have shown us throughout the years. I want to personally thank everyone of you that have been out there looking, searching and recommending potential sites us to land. So, please keep following our Facebook pages and websites for updates of our progress. Thank you all for everything,” he wrote on Facebook.

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