When Darrell Peterson was asked what he liked best about the restaurant business, he didn’t hesitate and immediately said the people are. “I love the customers,” Peterson said. “It’s fun to cook for them and see them enjoy a good meal. The very best thing is when they come back and tell their friends and family about it!”
That’s what has been happening since Peterson opened the doors of the Mabel Smokehouse Bar & Grill in mid-December. He spent many months getting the restaurant ready and it’s been busy ever since. The restaurant is located in downtown Mabel at 134 S. Main Street. Peterson did extensive renovations to make the place warm and inviting. He added four sinks and other improvements to bring the restaurant up to code and compliant with health regulations.
“I’ve been cooking for as long as I can remember,” the Mabel native said. “I have worked for a number of restaurants and owned one a few years ago. It’s my passion, especially smoking meats. It’s been my specialty for a long time and I keep working at it to perfect it. I have fun playing around with the heating and different smoking techniques. People tell me that it keeps getting better and better.”
Arlo and Mary Helen Schmidt, who live just north of Mabel, said they come because the food is delicious. “My wife is an outstanding cook,” Arlo said. “If she says something is good, then you know it’s good. Darrell’s brisket is tremendous. We ordered one to eat here and another to take home for later. It has a great flavor and you can tell it’s a quality cut of meat.” Mary Helen added that the restaurant is very clean and the prices are reasonable.
The restaurant is currently open seven days a week, and beginning in February, will be open on weekends for breakfast. Hours will be Monday through Thursday from 4-9 p.m.; Friday 4-10 p.m.; Saturday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. According to Peterson, they should have their liquor license by the Super Bowl.
The restaurant seats 38, but Peterson plans to expand 10 feet off the side of the building, which would double the seating capacity. “We own the building, which makes a big difference,” Peterson said. “Right now, it can get crowded pretty quickly, but we’re managing to keep up. Our take-out business is booming. You can get anything on the menu and it will be ready for pick-up within a short time. We’re planning to have a patio this summer and serve pizzas in addition to our regular menu.”
The most popular item is the brisket sandwich and the Smokehouse, a half-pound burger with brisket and cheese. Friday nights are the fish and shrimp specials. “We have an excellent two-piece cod dinner with potato, bread and salad for $7.95,” Peterson said. “The gulf jumbo shrimp dinner is $8.95. Prime rib is Saturday nights and eventually we’ll do chicken on Thursdays and ribs on Wednesday. When we begin serving breakfast, it will be a full breakfast menu that will include omelets, pancakes, eggs, meat and potatoes.”
When asked what’s the most challenging thing about the restaurant business he said everything is. “There is a lot of work and details that go into running a restaurant. From training staff, shopping, cooking, cleaning, finances, menus, greeting customers and ensuring that every meal is top-notch, it’s more than a full-time job, but I love it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”
Currently, Peterson employs three staff, but plans to add two more employees. The regular menu includes something for everyone in the family, including grilled cheese, burgers, onion rings and fries. For take-out, call (507) 493-5502.