Trio Brings the Taste of Southern BBQ to Houlton
HOULTON, Maine – The fantastic sweet and smoky flavors of southern barbecue are available in Houlton thanks to a recently opened restaurant.
ShireWood Smokehouse, a wood-smoked southern barbecue take-out establishment located at 135 Military Street, serves barbecue chicken, pork and brisket sandwiches, platters, as well as wings, ribs, hamburgers, fries, barbecued beans and other dishes.
The brainchild of Alex Guriak, Gabe Guerra and Kira Crawford, ShireWood Smokehouse opened its doors on February 11 to strong sales as local customers showed interest in trying something new and different in Houlton.
“We wanted to provide good food in general,” Guriak said. “Each place serves pizza and steak bombs, so we wanted to do something different.”
The trio had originally planned to open a food truck type business, but were unable to find a suitable vehicle. Plans then shifted to finding a more permanent, year-round location, which they found on Military Street.
Formerly a convenience store and pizzeria, Nana’s Place, the location proved to be perfect for the trio. The purchase became final in May 2021 and the group then focused on finding a smokehouse that could operate in sub-zero temperatures during the winter months.
“We found one in South Carolina that weighed 5,000 pounds,” Guriak said.
It took several months for the smoker to log in and be ready to go to the point where he felt comfortable opening his doors. As a take-out-only establishment, ShireWood Smokehouse prepares a set amount of food each day and closes shop when it sells out.
“I had been running restaurants in Jacksonville, Florida for many years, but always wanted to open my own restaurant,” Guriak said. “Kira and her husband Gabe were looking for a property here, and I came with them and absolutely fell in love with the area.”
Guerra and Crawford first moved to the area, buying a small farm three years ago, then Guriak followed and the group put their plan into motion.
“Gabe’s passion is barbecuing,” Guriak said. Guerra arrives at work around 3 a.m. to begin the long, slow process of smoking the meats so they can be ready to go when the store opens.
Offering seven different sauces and a variety of rubs, ranging from sweet to salty to spicy, ShireWood Smokehouse also bottles and sells its homemade sauces in its store for those who want to bring the flavors home.
Determining the right amount of food to prepare each day is one of the main challenges.
“The first two weeks people were super excited and we sold steadily,” Guerra said. “Brisket is currently our #1 seller.”
The company also offers trays for large gatherings; a number of side dishes, including coleslaw, barbecue beans, and coleslaw; and offers a variety of rotating desserts. There’s also a kids’ menu with burgers, grilled cheese, quesadilla, and mac and cheese.
Shirewood Smokehouse is open Thursday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until the day’s produce runs out, which is usually around 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit his Facebook page.