The more the merrier at Woodland Smokehouse & Commissary
When Peckinpah owners Tyson Reimer and Ryan Murfitt realized they needed enough space to install an industrial-sized smoker for the beef brisket, jalapeño pork sausage, and chicken they serve at their Carolina-style barbecue joint in Gastown, they never expected to be manning a 10,000-square-foot facility that’s shared by a variety of local chefs.
But that’s exactly what the two have done with the recently opened Woodland Smokehouse & Commissary. The Commercial Drive (near Woodland Drive) spot is a retailer—selling everything from made-in-house charcuterie to oversize gourmet doughnuts to delicate green-tea and Nutella macarons—plus a professionally run kitchen that anyone can rent space in.
“We needed a place to put a bigger smoker, and it just evolved into this massive undertaking,” the heavily tattooed Reimer says on a walk-through of the new venue, which is outfitted with dozens of sparkling stainless-steel appliances and the kind of expansive counter space the Real Housewives of Vancouver would salivate over. “It just kind of grew out of nothing. There was no business plan or anything.”
Although Reimer and Murfitt didn’t necessarily strategically map things out, they’ve ended up filling a gap in the Vancouver food scene.
Cartems Donuterie is a partner in the venture, as it needed a place to churn out the dynamite doughnuts it sells at its Gastown shop. Mark Tagulao, a banker turned baker who has a crazy talent for pastries, also required kitchen space for making his dazzling desserts, including those aforementioned macarons, which he sells under the name Edible Mark.
The retail space carries a vast array of carnivorous-foodie delights to go, such as Armenian-style Boston bison pastrami, Hungarian smokies, pulled pork, beef tongue, Bourbon pâté, and herb-smoked bacon. Chef Anatoli Belov does all the smoking and comes up with the daily sandwiches, such as Moroccan chicken on brioche topped with harissa and French fries, all cozy under melted cheese. “It’s a thing of beauty,” he tells a customer while I’m there.
Then there are prepared meals, from house-made chipotle pork sausage rolls to Provençal duck and fingerling potato pie to boil-in-a-bag pulled pork. The retail storefront also carries products from Pemberton’s Ice Cap Organics and Abbotsford’s Fraser Valley Farms, among others.
Reimer says he’s had inquiries from several other interested individuals, including a local chef who specializes in making beef jerky and another who makes ice cream, as well street-food vendors.
Chefs can rent out space full-time or part-time, or even on a daily basis. With the popularity of cooking classes soaring, Reimer and Murfitt hope to offer those in the evenings too; Tagulao will be teaching the art of macaron-making. Those who rent space get to use all of the facilities, including dry storage, walk-in coolers, a flash freezer, smokers, and the meat-curing room. Full-timers also get dedicated shelf space and lockers.
There are other shared kitchens in town, but they’re on a much smaller scale.
“If you have a small kitchen but big output, you just can’t do it,” Reimer explains. “This is basically an extension of an existing restaurant kitchen, and a lot of restaurants and food businesses are in the same boat.”
Reimer and Murfitt have high hopes for the smokehouse.
For starters, they aim to continue supporting local businesses and to be as sustainable as possible.
“We want to be as organic, local, 100-mile-y as we can,” Reimer says.
They’ll have room for even more kitchen space, once they clear out the big mess that former owners made in an attempt to breed lobsters. There’s the loading dock that’s being transformed into a stage for Sack Blabbath to play at a party during Craft Beer Week in May. Their chef is going out east to learn from the experts how to do Montreal-style smoked meat.
Reimer and Murfitt are running this huge operation while moving their other restaurant, Cobre, right next door to its current Gastown location. (Reimer says the landlord didn’t renew the lease.) Then who knows? They might be onto another venture soon after.
“I get bored easily,” Reimer says. “When something is up and running, we’ll say, ‘We should do something else.’... The next thing you know, you feel like shit and you have no money and you swear you’ll never do it again.”