Where: 3205 Atlanta Highway
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
It was a bittersweet moment for Wayne Vaughan when the old building off Atlanta Highway and Poplar Springs Road in Oakwood was taken down.
Decades of serving barbecue through a window had ended, but Smoke House BBQ’s days weren’t over.
The business, which started in 1978 in the basement of Vaughan’s Poplar Springs Road home, simply moved to a renovated building just across the parking lot.
“This is a dream come true,” she said.
Her daughter and co-owner, Rae Vaughan, agreed. “It’s been a long time coming, but it’s been worth it,” she said.
The new location opened March 6, with total seating for about 150 people, including space for larger groups, and plans for a drive-thru and expanded menu.
And one of the biggest changes: air conditioning. People used to line up at the old location, pay for their food and take it to the “wood shed,” a mostly enclosed, covered shelter with dining tables but no chilled air in the summer or heat in the winter.
Otherwise, “nothing has changed,” particularly family recipes, Rae Vaughan said.
The big twist in the restaurant’s history is that it once occupied the building it’s now in. The building is many decades old, taking various forms over the years, including as a Kentucky Fried Chicken in the 1960s.
For a short time, it served as Smoke House location, before the restaurant moved to a neighboring house, where it remained for about 30 years.
Those were the early days of building the business, so many hours were invested to keeping it going.
“We catered everywhere,” Wayne Vaughan said.
With a grin, she added, “We were open eight days a week, or it felt like it.”
Rae Vaughan said the restaurant “would not be here if not for” her mother.
“It was her recipes and her hard work,” she said.
Longtime customers Jim and Joyce Sneed of Chestnut Mountain said they love the new restaurant. “We’re barbecue people,” Joyce Sneed said.
And the newly renovated digs make dining “so much nicer,” her husband said. He said he hopes the wood shed stays put.
Wayne and Rae Vaughan said they plan to keep the building, using it for larger gatherings at some point.
Wayne Vaughan isn’t slowing, either.
“I come here every day,” she said. “I walk around and look at everything, and I visit with the customers.”