'We love this city': Meet New Haven’s family-friendly BBQ spot built on local pride

When Staci and Jason Voelck opened Wicked Automotive dealership in New Haven in December 2007, their love for entrepreneurship grew, as did their appreciation for their hometown. But they began to notice a gap in the local offerings.

While New Haven has many local bars and taverns that cater to the 21-and-over crowd, they wanted there to be more local, family-friendly restaurants.

As a result, they decided to launch their second venture in 2018: Smokehaus BBQ restaurant, serving ribs, pulled pork, brisket, wings, chicken, nachos, homemade pies, and monster cookies.

“It all started because we felt New Haven really needed a family-friendly restaurant and also because we love this city,” Jason says.

Smokehaus BBQ restaurant is located at 717 Broadway St. in downtown New Haven.

When he and Staci found the perfect spot for their restaurant at 717 Broadway St. in downtown New Haven, they discovered that it came with a bonus.

“The building owner also had, believe it or not, a Smokehaus food truck,” Jason says. “We bought the combo in March, and while the building was being renovated Staci operated the food truck.”

The food truck turned out to be a good introduction to the restaurant business, giving the Smokehaus a public presence and a way to earn revenue before its brick-and-mortar location opened in October 2018. But it also proved to be a draw in and of itself.

Jason says it was so popular that they decided to keep operating the food truck in the warm months even after the restaurant opened.

“Where ever the food truck is, there’s a party,” he says. “On the other hand, running the restaurant is a lot of work.”

The Smokehaus food truck is a popular attraction.

As Jason still runs the auto dealership by day, Staci, who has food industry experience, has taken the lead at Smokehaus, managing its operation, ordering food, and running its delivery service.

Jason says the restaurant’s catering business has exploded in the last year, and they’ve hired an employee to manage it.

Even so, when the food truck is operating, the Voelcks are still technically running three businesses between the two of them. But the stress doesn’t keep them down.

When you walk into Smokehaus BBQ in New Haven, the staff will put on their brightest smiles and give you a hearty welcome. The second time, they’ll greet you by name.

While personalized customer service is a strong point for the establishment, the real attraction is its smoked low and slow top-quality meats, Jason says.

Smokehaus serves smoked, low and slow top-quality meats.

In the fall of 2018, Smokehaus BBQ was voted among the top 3 of the People’s Choice Award at the Taste of New Haven festival.

While the restaurant serves beer, Jason says it will always put family dining first to serve the New Haven community.

“As far as we’re concerned, this is a restaurant that sells beer, not a bar that sells food,” he says.

Visit Smokehaus BBQ

717 Broadway

New Haven, IN 46774

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Phone: 260-444-8281

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