Trinidad Smokehouse at 225 West Main Street is a relatively new restaurant in the downtown scene, but owners Teddy Wilson and Brian Main have been evolving food entrepreneurs locally for a number of years. They are also the owners of Redneck Grill in the Shell gas station at 731 East Main Street and a food trailer that has made appearances over the past several years at numerous big events.
Offering dine-in eating, operating under the current health order requirements, their food is delicious and surprisingly affordable. Additionally, being one of the only dine-in establishments serving alcohol, with Brix recently closing their doors and Purple Toad transitioning to a Walter’s Beer eatery, owners said they’ve had quite a crowd the past few weeks and have been struggling to keep up.
“Most people are just so happy to be out,” said Wilson.
“The tip average has skyrocketed,” said Main “Tables are leaving $15 or $20 tips for a $20 or $30 ticket. My staff feels appreciated.”
The atmosphere and feeling is a lot of how Main said they operate their establishments, listening to customers and trying to make everyone feel at home.
“Rather than come in one night a week and spend your whole check in one night, we want folks to feel like they can come in here seven days a week,” said Main. “If you don’t like to make dinner at home, we’re going to make our food affordable so you don’t have to.”
On top of affordable prices, the place has a “Wing Wednesday” with half priced wings, beer, and wine and also “Taco Tuesday” with half price on tacos, beer, wine, and margaritas.
Their tacos are all dressed with fresh toppings inside a warm corn tortilla with a delish salsa. Of the margaritas they serve, the Jalapeno Margarita comes highly recommended with a faint hint of spice and flavor of freshly sliced jalapeno.
The establishment boasts a great cocktail menu and Main estimated that at any given time, at least 90 percent of customers have a drink on their table. In addition to the drinks being good, they also offer a heck of a deal on their drink menus, too.
“Almost everybody has a drink on their table,” said Main “People claim we’re too cheap, but I do that for volume. If you know your costs and what you want to make out of it, the customer can tell you if it’s too expensive or too cheap. There’s no reason to gouge people on prices. I sell more margaritas that way.”
In addition to Taco Tuesday and Wing Wednesday, they also have a “Ladies Night” on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. serving half price cocktails for ladies.
They also offer a kid’s value menu every day that includes a drink, entrée and side. The smokehouse goes even further by keeping their food menu varied, as well as fresh.
“We focus on fresh, homemade food,” Main said. “With our smoked meats, we do everything in house with high grade cuts and our own seasonings. We definitely also concentrate on service. The food could be great, but if you don’t have good service customers aren’t going to come back. We try to give everyone an experience.”
Focusing on fresh foods, all their toppings and even the drink accouterments are cut fresh, adding to the ultimate flavor of the dish or cocktail.
“Most restaurants serve the pre-packaged stuff,” said Main “We’ll cut whole heads of lettuce fresh every day. People notice that.”
They also said they sell a lot of catfish which they try to pick through to find the best of.
“We try to get the biggest catfish we can find,” Main said, “and we bread them ourselves.”
While Trinidad Smokehouse is their current focus, owners expressed they intend to continue to operate Redneck Smoke and their food trailer for events, once events start happening again. They also are currently working to renovate several upstairs rooms for Airbnb making a stop at the smokehouse a true modern saloon style experience.
Main explained they’ve had trouble finding enough employees to keep up with the demand that has continued to pour through their doors and added that they really try to treat their workers like family to make the work environment as enjoyable and low-stress as possible.
“We’re real personable here,” said Main. “I’ve never been in a restaurant where wait staff and cooks talked to each other. We tell them our numbers every night and are very vocal about the business and the success of the business. We don’t try to keep that from our employees.”
Both owners expressed the restaurants they operate and the quality foods they serve were a passion and have been since they started smoking meats
“Some people go into opening a restaurant to make money,” said Main. “That’s not how you should treat it. Ever. For us, first this was a hobby. Then we realized what we created and went all in, 100 percent.”
Early on, Wilson and Main said they had contemplated purchasing the current Main Street location, but varying circumstances kept them from going all in.
“We’ve looked at this location for several years,” said Teddy. “We actually were in the process of getting funding to buy the place on Elm Street. That didn’t really work out for us.”
After being offered their Main Street location a third time, Teddy said they decided to take a look at it and agreed they’d take the chance and purchase the building. The kitchen had to be completely redone and was a headache, but they also were able to freshen up the dining room, complete with local brands burned into the wall.
“I found out that some of these brands are still being used and I’m trying to track down who some of them belong to,” said Teddy.
The overall feel of the restaurant is very comfortable and one can only imagine how “saloon” like it will feel once the upstairs rooms are completed and ready for reservations.
“We’re hoping people will be able to pick up their keys from the bartender once we’re finished with the rooms upstairs,” said Main.
Asked about their favorite menu items, Main said even though it’s not one of their high-ticket items, he loved the turkey melt.
“People might say steak or salmon,” said Main “You can get steak and salmon everywhere. You can’t get a good turkey melt everywhere.”
Wilson said his favorite item was the spicy hot shrimp with a beer.
“It’s a good beer shrimp,” said Teddy. “It’s got the Louisiana bite to it so you eat it, and you drink a beer. It’s kind of addicting.”