It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet for Cherie McGraham, who’s living her dream, literally, with ownership of Smokehouse on Main, a barbecue restaurant located in Newhall.
The appropriately named addition to Main Street comes under new ownership to a face familiar to many — McGraham has worked as a Realtor in the Santa Clarita Valley, primarily in the Agua Dulce community where she lives, for the last 17 years. She’s lived in the area for nearly 30 years.
McGraham has spent her life working not far from the food and beverage industry — her uncle was a previous of owner of Tinhorn Flats in Burbank, and she also spent nearly 10 years working at the popular local watering hole, Doc’s Inn in Newhall.
“It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time,” McGraham said, mentioning two previous attempts to purchase a bar-restaurant location, both of which fell through in the late stages of the game.
But when she found out about the opportunity, by happenstance, while visiting with a friend at the nearby Eighth and Rail, a bar off Main Street, also in Newhall, she knew it was the opportunity she’d been waiting for, she said Friday, as the business celebrated its soft opening.
A grand opening is planned for early next month — the restaurant is still in the process of waiting for its license to sell alcohol, which it’s expecting later this month.
McGraham mostly kept the menu that helped grow the previous restaurant at the Main Street location, Southern Smoke. McGraham bought the location from Sam Gardian, who was convicted in March of sexual battery against a former waitress after a two-year legal battle.
McGraham kept the staff, brought back a few things that had fallen by the wayside — she reverted the seasonings back to the original distributor, whom she said was more popular and flavorful, and added a couple of items.
“I’ve changed it, I’ve added things that I think will be huge, like roasted corn on the cob — the kind you’d get at the county fair with all the fixin’s,” she said, “and garlic toast.”
Another change planned will be for the restaurant to be open for seven days a week, whereas previously it was closed on Mondays.
One of the main goals for McGraham is to make sure that everyone there feels important — what one customer already referred to as the VIP treatment, which she tries to bestow on all the restaurant’s diners.
“It’s actually happening and it’s happening in such an incredible way,” she said, referring to the opportunity she has to live her dream with a bar-restaurant that’s already successful, as opposed to creating something from the ground up.
“I’m not scared,” she said, referring to her role running the restaurant, “because we have an incredible product that everybody loves.”