Old Town Newhall’s Southern Smoke BBQ & Brewhouse has been getting a lot of attention lately, including being selected by Yelp.com as a top Los Angeles tour destination, named “Ultimate BBQ” by Elite magazine and winning additional praise from USA Today for the restaurant’s “seemingly endless matrix of meat and sauce options.” That’s high praise indeed for a restaurant that’s only been open since Jan. 10 of this year. And the 43-seat, 1,460-square-foot dining room located on Main Street is about to have nearly double its present seating capacity and floor space as it expands into the vacant space next door. Renovations, which are now underway, will provide an additional 40 seats in the dining room and the outdoor patio. Proprietor Sam Gardian says he has no idea how his establishment has gotten so much attention lately, but adds, “It’s pretty exciting, considering I’d never worked in a restaurant before this.” Gardian notes that he was inspired to get into the barbecue business by watching TV cooking shows. All of the food served at Southern Smoke is made with his recipes, from the sauces to the side dishes. He brought in a barbecue pitmaster from Virginia to help make his recipes work in a higher-volume setting – the restaurant’s smoker handles 1,200 pounds of meat at a time. In addition to adding new dining space, renovations will also expand the kitchen and will add an on-site brewery. The eatery currently employs 38, but that number will likely increase as the restaurant grows in size. Gardian says of all dishes on the menu, including salads, seafood, pulled pork, ribs, chicken and tri-tip, the house specialty is the brisket – certified Angus beef that is hickory smoked for 14 hours. In addition, a weekend breakfast menu is served, an offering that is slightly unusual among local barbecue restaurants. But that’s consistent with Gardian’s way of running a restaurant. “I’ve always been concerned with doing things different from what everybody else is doing,” he says.