Mike Emerson and Skip Steele, the patriarchs of Pappy’s Smokehouse and Bogart’s Smokehouse, respectively, have taken over the former Squeaker’s BBQ & Bar in Valley Park (and Cafe Nicoletti before that). Squeaker’s opened in August 2013 and closed its doors on Tuesday.
After a brief renovation, Emerson and Steele will open Dalie’s Smokehouse at 2951 Dougherty Ferry Road (at Big Bend). Emerson says the new smokehouse will embrace “the heart of Pappy’s and the soul of Bogart’s.” In tangible terms, that means it will serve the most popular items from both BBQ restaurants.
So which signature items will be served? Emerson says the final lineup has yet to be determined. Dalie’s menu is “currently etched in wet cement,” quips Emerson, a master of the one-liner. Doing a “Dalie Special" is a natural idea, and the duo plans to do those as well.
The restaurant's name is an homage to “Papa Joe” Dalie Wells, Steele’s maternal grandfather. “He was the one who got me interested in cooking,” Steele says. “He gave me my first job in a restaurant kitchen—when I was 12—and told me I could eat anything I wanted as long as I cooked it myself. He’s also the one who gave me my first beer, but that’s another story…”
Retrofitting the space should be minimal and isn't expected to take longer than 30 days, says Emerson. He and Steele plan to add an additional smoker and use the inherited extra equipment “to add some items we couldn’t do before.”
In that vein, Dalie’s will be the first restaurant in the Pappy’s family to offer beer. Local craft beers will flow through the draft lines, and some bottled beer may be available as well—maybe sold out of galvanized tubs, road-house style.
The restaurant is not large, seating 40 inside and 35 on the patio out front.
Curbside service will also be offered, for two reasons: “For the convenience of family cars packed with kids, obviously," says Emerson, "but also to give our team an opportunity to touch the customer, to interact”—a cornerstone of the Pappy’s philosophy since Day 1. The existing drive-up window will not be used, for the same reason: “Those transactions are always rushed,” he says, "with no time to get to know the customer."
Emerson says he had been scouting other locations for the better part of a year and has even trained a crew that’s “more than ready for the opportunity.”
The same can be said for the other party involved. The owners of Squeaker's, Mike and Barb Miller, befriended the Pappy's clan not long after the first overture and decided that after 25 years of restaurant ownership (including Miller's Crossing in Hog Hollow), that at age 71 it was the right time to retire and handing the reins over to Emerson and Steele was "absolutely the right decision and we're looking forward to being their customers."
The restaurant is located in the same center as three restaurants from OG Hospitality Group: The Tavern Kitchen & Bar, The Corner Pub & Grill, and The Shack. Brant Baldanza, managing partner for OGHG, is elated at the news: “If there’s anyone in the city who doesn’t know this corner exists,” he says, “I bet they will now.”
(In one week's time, Valley Park scored not one, but two significant barbecue restaurants: last Thursday,SLM reported that Sugarfire Smoke House would be taking over the Dickey's BBQ near Highways 141 and 44, and today comes news of Dalie's Smokehouse, not quite a mile and a half away.)