Hello, my name is David and I am one of the 3 founders of Smokehouse.
As The Oatmeal has noted before, no one reads these pages written by a restauranteur. If you’ve come to this site and got lost on your way to the menu or directions please proceed with all haste to whichever place you really intended to go and don’t let me waste any more of your time.
Still here? Well then you must actually want to know a bit about how we all wound up in Moldova running a BBQ restaurant. Our tale begins in June 2012 when Matt and I arrived in Chisinau as newly placed Peace Corps volunteers. Over the course of the next 2 years of our lives we lived and worked in Moldova on projects ranging from youth volunteering programs to business planning consulting to running food booths at local festivals as fundraisers. Peace Corps was a wild ride that imbued us with a love for Moldovan people and culture and a daily appreciation for the unpredictable nature of life here. As a stranger mentioned the other day while musing about why we would choose to be in Moldova “it is not boring here.” Fact.
So why a BBQ restaurant? As all good stories this one starts with a beer… or 2. Sitting with friends in late winter 2014 we got to talking about all the opportunities for business that exist in Moldova and why people aren’t taking advantage of them. Corruption was discussed and the poor legal environment for both small business and foreign investment and somehow the budding entrepreneur in us melded with the Peace Corps Volunteer and an idea was born. What if we stayed in Moldova when our service ended and opened our own business? What if we did it without paying any bribes? What if we transparently published our whole process – warts and all – so that other people could understand how it really is to do business here? What if…
These what if’s yielded Smokehouse and Open Source Entrepreneurship (OSE).
I guess I never answered the “why BBQ?” part of that question. The reality is that when we decided to start a company here we had no idea what it would be. In that lies a secret of entrepreneurship – ideas are far less important than your commitment to making them a reality. We committed to starting a company and then set about deciding what it would be. In the process of many whiteboard sessions we started to realize that our shared passion for slow smoked BBQ and craft beer were just the right niche market in Moldova to be a successful business – and one we would love running.
After this concept was together it was time to find a partner – and just like that we met Vlad. From our first conversation as a group it was clear we shared a passion for the idea of a community-driven restaurant / pub. Undeterred by a cumulative restaurant experience of Matt’s 2 weeks at taco bell one summer we started working to open Smokehouse.
If you are interested in details about our startup process, at least the technical side of it, check out OSE. I won’t dwell on any of that here. The most important thing to say about the time between the 3 of us deciding to open a restaurant and today is this: we are only here because of the amazing support of our families and friends. Building Smokehouse was like a barn-raising. Cash strapped as we were we did most of our remodel ourselves and *many* of our friends picked up hammers, saws and paint brushes to help make our dream a reality.
Community is in our name and our community, the Smokehouse Community, made up of our team, our friends, our family and everyone who walks through that door, orders a beer or coffee and strikes up a conversation, makes us everything we are.
– David Smith
Co-Founder / Manager Smokehouse