TASTY TUESDAY: Smokin' Bear BBQ
BBQ Pitmaster Tyson Oakman left his job as a corporate executive to pursue his passion for making great barbecue. In March, with the help of his wife, Susan, he officially opened Smokin' Bear BBQ on Main St. in Bridgeport.
"Barbecue is a huge passion in my family, we enjoy doing it, so when the opportunity presented itself, we jumped on it," Tyson said.
The Oakman's prepare Texas-style Barbecue, meaning a dry rub gets smoked into the meat and sauces are served on the side.
"The Texas dry rub gives customers the opportunity to enjoy the flavor of the meat and the flavor of the seasoning," said Tyson.
"I love barbecue and this is barbecue done right. The way they make it is actually very flavorful and the brisket is delicious," said customer Brian Elliott.
Customers can choose from brisket, pulled pork, chicken, ribs, sandwiches, and homemade sides like mac and cheese, smoked baked beans, and banana pudding.
"It was good. They're friendly, helpful. When I came in he saw that I was in the Marines and said they have a discount for that, so that's really something I appreciate," said first-time customer Mike Alkire.
"They're really cool because they make the best food," said 13-year-old Makayla Corley, who was there celebrating her birthday.
Barbecue is a labor of love. Smoking the meat is a round-the-clock process that requires lots of attention to ensure that the meat is fresh and tender.
"It can be long days and long nights but we have a good team in place," said Tyson.
And it's not just the recipes that have roots in the family. The name of the restaurant is Tyson's way of paying tribute to his Native American heritage.
"I'm Suquamish, which is out of the state of Washington and my grandmother was taken off the reservation by my grandfather. We worked with the tribe and the federal government to be federally recognized as tribe members. Once we were recognized by the Suquamish tribe and the federal government, my dad had to name me, and he named me 'Smoking Bear,'" Tyson explained.
Although the restaurant has only been open a few months, Smokin' Bear BBQ has quickly established itself as a place for great food and friendly service.
"And when they actually taste the food, it's so different, good, and unique that they keep coming back," said Tyson.
Smokin' Bear now has a food truck! Currently, they only set up at Grandma's House in Nutter Fort, but are looking to expand to more locations.
The restaurant opens at 11:00 and closes when they sell out of food for the day.