Peter’s Gay ‘90s Restaurant in downtown Kelso has gone to the pigs — Hickory Hogs BBQ, that is.
The family barbecue restaurant finally is running smoothly after a soft opening in November, according to owner Noah Smith. The new sign just went up, service has improved and the food is consistent, he said.
“You can have the same meal on Wednesday and the same meal again on Saturday,” said Smith, 37, who lives in Castle Rock.
Smith and his former partner, Corey Kanaly, bought the long-shuttered building at 310 S. Pacific Ave. last year and spent the summer renovating it. They preserved the huge, ornate bar that had been a centerpiece of Peter’s Restaurant, which was a Kelso favorite from 1963 to 2000.
Smith said he invested “my whole life savings and then some” in the business venture. (He has since bought out Kanaly’s share of the restaurant.) Including Smith, who does most of the cooking and smoking, Hickory Hogs has six employees.
“It’s been an uphill battle, but I think we’re going to make it,” he said.
The menu features hardwood smoked meats: pulled pork, brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs and chicken, basted in a choice of sweet barbecue sauce, mustard sauce or hot barbecue sauce. For sides and dessert, there are Grandmas’s potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, apple crisp and pecan pie, “all from scratch,” Smith said.
Having a small menu ensures each dish will be great, he said.
A meal typically costs $9 to $12 a person, he said. The restaurant hopes to receive its license to sell beer and wine within the next month.
For the next couple of weekends, Hickory Hogs is running a sampler special for $24.95 for two people that comes with each one of the meats and two side dishes.
“We’re really happy that we can open a business in Kelso. We want to be part of the community,” general manager Bruce Brock said.