Folks who wander into the new Peckinpah's Carolina Style BBQ, located in the Crash Hotel, may be in for a surprise. There is no goopy, sticky sauce enrobing the meats — it is an eastern North Carolina-style joint that lets the meat shine, complemented by a simple chilli-vinegar sauce.
"It's just more a purist form," says Tyson Reimer who, with Ryan Murfitt, opened the Squamish space in January. "It's not about sauces; it's more about the meat. Generally, Carolina is all about the pork."
The pair of restaurateurs had a decade of honing their craft in Gastown before the pandemic made that location a challenge.
Reimer's brother and his family live in North Carolina and that's where he first encountered the style of simple, unadorned slow-roasting.
"Our brisket is just salt-and-pepper," Reimer said. "The wood is white oak and whatever fruitwood we can get our hands on."
The meats then get 12 to 16 hours in the smoker.
The menu is as straightforward as the recipes, emphasizing excellence in a niche seldom seen this far north or west. Choice of meats — beef brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs, chicken wings or fried chicken — can be accompanied by BBQ beans, coleslaw, potato salad or a couple of other add-ons. Hush puppies — deep-fried cornmeal balls — may be familiar to North Carolinians passing through, but the honey bourbon mayo dipping sauce is found only at Peckinpah's. (Reimer and Murfitt chose the late Hollywood Western director's name simply because they are fans.)
As summer approaches, Reimer hopes to extend hours and maybe create a diner vibe on Sundays with a special brunch menu.
Another new offering in town is Cordelia's Locket, which is innovative in a whole bunch of ways.
"It is the only oceanfront restaurant in Squamish," said Kelly Ann Woods, who opened the space with Melissa Steacy in August 2021. "It's an anchor property in the downtown community … and it connects the new developments to downtown. We're sort of at the new entryway of downtown."
Designated as a "café and wine bar," Cordelia's Locket boasts a Provençal flair, with fresh seafood, crab cakes, terrines and charcuterie boards.
Woods has a theatre background and the restaurant's name is a nod to King Lear's favourite (then banished) daughter.
Some of the things that do not immediately meet the eye (or the olfactory system) nevertheless set Cordelia's apart.
"It's women-run, women-led," Woods said. That signals more understanding and alternative work hours that recognize an employees' multiple obligations, she said.
"As women, we have responsibilities of being an entrepreneur and a mother and a business owner and so on and so forth," she said. "We try to support people's lives outside of the work environment."
Another unusual (but growing) trend is the way Woods and Steacy generated the funds to open the restaurant. They chose equity crowdfunding, which allowed virtually anybody to become part-owner in their new venture. This was due, in part, to the fact that only 2.1% of venture capital goes to female entrepreneurs, according to Woods, and so a novel approach to capital was welcome.
Innovation continues in added revenue streams. Opening a restaurant is a notoriously arduous undertaking at the best of times. Doing so amid a global pandemic led the pair to create multiple revenue streams. In addition to prepackaged offerings of the kitchen's wares, guests can also shop for locally produced ceramics, lavender sachets, skin products and other items that Woods said reflect the Mediterranean atmosphere the space is honing.
Woods said Cordelia's Locket is already a huge success — but everything is relative.
"It's been wildly challenging, of course," she said. "I've worked in hospitality for more than 30 years and I think just the [industry has] gone through an incredible transformation. It will get better, but there were the 'before times' for hospitality and then there is now. The entire industry has changed – overnight. I honestly don't believe it will ever be the same again."
**Please note, this story originally appeared in Discover Squamish magazine, summer 2022 edition. No one involved in the publication received any compensation or benefit from the restaurants featured.