Province's first and only Smoke's Poutinerie opens in Moose Jaw

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The biggest rockstar at this year's Craven Country Jamboree was the warm, cheesy, delicious poutine offered up by the Moose Jaw Smoke's Poutinerie. 

A week before their grand opening, which took place Monday, they loaded up their food truck and headed for the music festival.

"The first day it was kind of slow. The second day it got busy, and the third day was absolutely nuts as the word continued to go out," said Ken McInnis, owner of the Moose Jaw Smoke's Poutinerie who opened the franchise with his business partner Doug MacArthur. 

Their grand opening saw the same kind of results with people continuing to flock to 11 River Street West just to try one of their 30 different poutines. So far the most popular choices have been the steak fajita, pulled pork and bacon cheeseburger poutines, but the other poutines are also getting a lot love.

"We've been doing really good. I'm surprised. It's like Craven all over again where we had lineups for hours," said McInnis. "Since we've opened the doors here it's been really crazy. Everybody is talking about us because this is something different."

Creating a market exclusive to poutine and opening up the province's first Smoke's here in Moose Jaw was a risky move. However, McInnis and MacArthur (who own the franchise rights in the province for Smoke's, minus three blocks in Saskatoon) wouldn't have had it any other way.

"This is where we live. This is our home," said McInnis. "We brought it to Moose Jaw first. It's a little more risky doing it that way because of the population, but I know it's going to do well."

On Tuesday afternoon the restaurant was packed with poutine lovers. All dishes on the menu include hand-cut yellow fleshed fries, custom unique seasonings and fresh Quebec cheese curds. The dish is topped off with a rich gravy (there are three to choose from, so even vegetarians can get in on the poutine action) and fresh toppings anyones heart desires. 

"So far, so good," said poutine lover Chase Rysavy who got poutine smothered in bacon. "I can see this place doing well at midnight because they are right by Champs."

Rysavy isn't the only one who thinks so. According to McInnis the location was chosen downtown because of its proximity to Mosaic Place, tourism hotspots and local bars. 

"When you have that urge after having a couple of drinks, what do you want? Poutine," he said. That's why the restaurant is open until 3 a.m. on Thursdays and 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. They're trying to cater to everyone and thanks to them Moose Jaw now has its own poutine heaven.

Before venturing into fries and gravy, McInnis ran the Husky gas station and MacArthur delivered the Pepsi. 

"He always wanted to do something. I told him to find something for us to do, and I'll do it," said McInnis. That's when the idea of poutine came up.

"It was a great, unique idea," he said. "I grew up in the eighties and that's when Smoke's Poutinerie started to stick."

So they designed their restaurant to reflect his childhood. Eighties glam rock music plays from the speakers, and long necked Coca-Cola bottles are sold. The walls are decorated with cars and game consoles from that era. 

In addition, Al Capone stands high and mighty in the corner with a face of Smoke's on his body. Who needs him anyways, especially when you have Smoke's. 

McInnis and MacArthur will soon be opening another location in Regina, but don't know where yet. 

"We're looking for a location. MacArthur lives in Regina and he said everybody is buzzing about it," said McInnis.

"But right now we would just like to thank all the people of Moose Jaw for coming out. It really is nice to see everybody."

Smoke's Poutinerie is open Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. They close at 11 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, at 3 a.m. on Thursdays, and 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. On Sundays they are closed. 

Organizations: Pepsi, Coca-Cola

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Quebec Regina

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