Garden City’s popular Smok-Haus bar and restaurant is expanding its Long Island footprint with a huge commercial kitchen that’s opening Friday, Sept. 8, in Hicksville.
The move will help Smok-Haus more efficiently serve its catering clients while easing potential kitchen bottlenecks in Garden City — as demand for its unique brand of American barbecue combined with ethnic street food continues to grow.
That’s all according to co-owner Manny Voumvourakis, who opened Smok-Haus in November 2018 with a group of childhood friends and hunting buddies, all food enthusiasts.
“We’ve been doing catering orders up to 240 people out of Garden City, and try doing that on a Saturday afternoon with a full dining room,” Voumvourakis explained. “It’s hard.”
The 2,000-square-foot Smok-Haus kitchen in Hicksville opens Friday at 954 S Broadway, Unit B. Aside from catering orders, the location will also be open for takeout and delivery.
How it happened
Voumvourakis and his team opened Smok-Haus to immediate fanfare.
Then, just about three or four months later, its big neighbor Sears closed across the street. Then they learned Garden City’s other downtown anchor store, Lord & Taylor, was liquidating.
“So we had to pedal even harder to let people know we were here,” he said.
Then things got cooking.
Then the COVID shutdowns happened.
“Right when we were starting to get a nice little rhythm and momentum, COVID hit,” Voumvourakis said. “But we got a lot of support from the community, we did sponsored lunches, kept busy. The main goal was to keep as many people on the payroll as possible, to support their families.”
“It wasn’t about making money. It was about getting to the finish line.”
That they did.
A commitment to quality and the employee retention played a huge role, he said.
Smok-Haus has since been named in Newsday’s coveted Top 100 Long Island Restaurants for 2020, 2021 and 2022
The expansion talks started happening for real earlier this year.
“When we got the news that NYU took over the Sears property and was doing construction, we knew we were going to at some point outgrow the cooking capacity in Garden City,” Voumvourakis said.
NYU is also taking over the vacated Lord & Taylor space in the downtown, Newsday reported in March.
Hicksville was the ideal location for the company to build a large commercial kitchen. That’s because it’s centrally located on the island, and Smok-Haus is looking to expand farther east.
“I’m in it for 100 stores, not just one,” Voumvourakis said. “Whether it happens in my lifetime, we’ll see.”
But the team isn’t looking to the city for units. Suffolk is in the more immediate plans.
“We want to go to Suffolk,” he said. “Our model is great for the suburbs. And our cusine is attractive to everybody. Rich, poor, black, white, Italian, Indian, it doesn’t matter.
“It’s just a nice blend and makes me happy.” In the meantime, Smok-Haus will also be fanning out across Long Island with food trucks that are in the works.
If you go
Smoke-Haus is offering $1 wings all weekend long to mark Hicksville’s grand opening. Customers at either location can get an 8- or 16-wing order at $1 per wing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The deal is good whether you’re taking out in Hicksville, or dining in or taking out in Garden City.
Follow Smok-Haus on Instagram or Facebook for any other updates. If you haven’t been, the Garden City location at 7 12th St. features room for 55 seats indoors with a full bar, and a patio that can hold over 90 people. To be sure, there is no dine-in option in Hicksville.
Top: Manny Voumvourakis with smokers in the company’s gleaming new Hicksville kitchen. (courtesy photo)