Barbecue joint looking for a kickstart from community

While their new location may look like construction chaos right now, two Red Seal chefs hope by spring the only hot mess will be the barbecue sauce dripping from their customers faces.

Shayna Merritt and Josh Shulman, of Shayna & Shulman Culinary Adventures, are also the operators of Smugglers Smoke House. Working from Legend Distillery on the Naramata Bench, the couple have always dreamed of moving to a bigger location to offer their southern inspired creations. Then came a message from fellow Penticton entrepreneur Jason Cox of The People’s Crafthouse.

“We were bouncing ideas around about how we will re-open next season and literally minutes later we get a message from Jason saying he has a spot and would like us to move in with him,” said Merritt.

Cox has already had his share of success. He will appear on the CBC show Dragons’ Den on March 22 dulling against entrepreneurs with a similar business.

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Now Merritt and Shulman are knee deep in construction rubble as they move into 215 Winnipeg St. with The People’s Crafthouse. It is the same site that has been home to coffee shops and a variety of other things over the years.

“I think the potential for this location is amazing,” said Merritt, who was born and raised in Penticton. “A lot of people were saying this spot hasn’t been successful but we are prepared to take on a lot to completely change the place and make it amazing. We are close to the beach, movie theatre, Main Street.”

With a vision for eclectic smokehouse to be opened with the adjoining People’s Crafthouse tasting room, the couple began a Kickstarter campaign. They are hoping to meet their $10,000 goal by March 2, which is set at the funds they need to purchase a smoker that will operate 24-hours a day so they can have brisket and pork butt always on the go.

“Our Kickstarter page is moving along at a decent pace but we need the community to hop in there and get a little more active with the pledges. There is a ton of value in the rewards we are offering,” said Shulman.

Pledges start from $1, which will get you a Smugglers Smoke House sticker up to $1,000 which will give you VIP status allowing you to eat anything, anytime for one year for free or a private catered party for up to 50 people.

“At the lower dollar amounts you can get free sandwiches or a rib dinner, but it is really the $500 and $1,000 pledges that are worth way more than that price. If you can find someone to do a private catered event for cheaper than that I would be amazed,” said Shulman.

Shulman, who earned his Red Seal through Okanagan College, said they batted around the idea of a Mexican restaurant but in the end it was his love for classic barbecue that won.

“Southern barbecue has always been my favourite style of food. I lived in the southern United States for about a year so I am super familiar with it. I ate anywhere and everywhere I could and that love for barbecue has filtered on to Shayna,” he said.

The pair have learned all the proper techniques and classic styles, along with the trade secrets that Shulman picked up while living in the south. They will be using locally butchered meats and curing, marinating, smoking and slow cooking to perfection. As well they will have sauces, salads and sides made in house. Of course, milkshakes and floats using People’s Crafthouse soda will be on the menu as well.

Currently sitting at just over $2,000 raised, the couple hope Penticton will back them in being the city’s only authentic barbecue joint.

“It is going to be a great spot and having the community involved and getting it going is really important. I think that is the new normal, if the community wants something to happen I think they got to get involved and make it happen. That is what creates good community spirit and close connections,” said Shulman. “They are helping us get off the ground and we are not going to take that lightly. People who help us out will be extremely valued customers for life. High fives and hugs forever.”


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