The age old question of “what are we going to eat today?” is getting a new answer, and this one is an interesting diversion from the normal burger, pizza and chicken fare. Smoky Market Foods Inc, (trading under the symbol SMKY) is coming at the “casual -fast” diner from a different direction. Their claim to epicurean fame is a trademarked process which naturally smokes high quality meats using hickory and apple hardwoods in a specially designed, wood-burning oven. The oven technology is the result of some 30 years of fine-tuning by founder and CEO Edward Feintech, who is a recognized leader in the art of smoking and barbequing.
After opening his first barbecue in Des Moines Iowa in the late 70’s, Mr. Feintech soon learned that the single greatest advantage he could pass onto his customers was to use the finest quality meats, and then use real wood to cook, smoke and cure it, eliminating the need for any additives, chemicals, flavor enhancers, or water. For instance, in a typical “smoked ham” from the grocery, the smoking process at the factory can reduce the weight of the ham by up to 20%, which the factory restores by injecting the ham with water to bring back the weight. On top of that, some chemical “flavor enhancers” can be added to try and mimic the taste of a true wood-fired smoke. As you can imagine, injected water doesn’t lend much flavor to a meat, it simply gives it a washed out color and makes its texture feel “wrong”, while liquid smokes and chemically-enhanced flavoring leaves most of us feeling less than enthused, and occasionally even ill.
Mr. Feintech knew immediately that this was no way to treat a customer. It’s no secret that the backyard barbecue is always a big hit, and that is mainly because the food gets that yummy, smoky flavor from meat juices dripping onto the hot coals and producing puffs of smoke. With so many people enjoying the pleasures of the simple backyard barbecue, Smoky Market Foods has found a demographic that, up until now, hasn’t been served very well.
When first invented and used, Eddie’s brick and iron ovens could turn out about 700 pounds of naturally smoked meats and fish in a twelve-hour period. That was adequate for his local market but – with aspirations to take the company national – he knew the company needed more production. Still, he insisted the company never lose sight of its goal; making the best, naturally smoked product money could buy.
After 12 years of testing and tweaking, the FDA approved the company’s latest technology, a stainless steel, wood-burning “oven” that can produce more than 15,000 pounds at a time. Now, the Smoky Market menu includes: Pork Riblettes, Baby Back Pork Ribs, Carved Boneless Chicken Breasts, Jumbo Chicken Thighs, Carved Chicken Strips, Boneless Pork Loin Slices, Atlantic Salmon Fillets, and Hickory Smoke-Baked™ Beans.
With the production process solved, the company plans to showcase its products on its website and introduce them in a pilot restaurant-store in Los Gatos, CA. This first store is to be a showcase of the company’s offerings, including full-service dining, take-out, and catering. It will also serve as a training ground for the company’s expansion into the rest of Northern California. After finalization of financing, the company plans to open 30 of these full-service stores in the first 12 months. The eventual goal is for each restaurant to average between $825,000 and $1.2 million in annual revenue.
Along with the full service stores, the company is working with Quantified Marketing Group to help develop and then select locations for ten test sites using the company’s exciting, new, self-contained kiosks. These are approximately 150-square-foot units which can be placed in grocery stores and other retail locations, and allow the company to sell its fully cooked and deliciously smoked meats without having to do any actual preparation on site. This cuts employee training time to a minimum and keeps costs to a minimum.
Great foods, made with all-natural ingredients and no additives, which also hit a broad sector of the “feel good food” market, sound like a recipe for success, and Smoky Market Foods Inc. appears to have all the ingredients. One would be wise to keep an eye on this one for more developments.
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