Kira Crawford tastes the barbecue baked beans at the recently opened ShireWood Smokehouse, located at 135 Military St. in Houlton. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

HOULTON, Maine — The fantastic sweet, and smoky tastes of southern barbecue are available in Houlton thanks to a newly opened eatery.

ShireWood Smokehouse, a wood-smoked southern barbecue takeout establishment located at 135 Military St., is serving up barbecue chicken, pork and brisket sandwiches, platters, as well as wings, ribs, hamburgers, french fries, barbecue baked beans and other dishes.

The brainchild of Alex Guriak, Gabe Guerra and Kira Crawford, ShireWood Smokehouse opened Feb. 11 to strong sales because local clientele proved eager to sample something new and different in Houlton.

“We wanted to offer good food in general,” Guriak said. “Every place serves pizza and steak bombs, so we wanted to do something different.”

The trio originally planned to open a food truck type of business, but were unable to locate a suitable vehicle. Plans then shifted to searching for a more permanent, year-round location, which they found on Military Street.

Alex Guriak, one of the owners of the recently opened ShireWood Smokehouse wood smoked southern barbecue eatery in Houlton, checks the progress on meats in the smoker Friday morning. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

Formerly Nana’s Place convenience store and pizzeria, the location proved to be perfect for the trio. The purchase became final in May 2021 and the group then turned its attention to finding a smoker 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 to get the smoker hooked up and ready to go to the point where they felt comfortable opening for business. As a takeout-only establishment, ShireWood Smokehouse prepares a set amount of food each day, and closes up shop when it sells out.

“I had been running restaurants down in Jacksonville, Florida, for many years, but I have always wanted to open my own place,” Guriak said. “Kira and her husband Gabe were looking at property up here, and I came along with them and absolutely fell in love with the area.”

Guerra and Crawford moved to the area first, purchasing a small farm three years ago and Guriak then followed and the group put their plan into motion.

“Gabe’s passion is doing barbecue,” Guriak said. Guerra arrives at work around 3 a.m. to start the long, slow process of smoking the meats so they can be ready to go when the shop opens for business.

Offering seven different sauces and a variety of rubs, ranging from sweet to savory to spicy, ShireWood Smokehouse also bottles and sells its homemade sauces from its store for those who want to bring the flavors home.

Figuring out the proper amount of food to have ready each day is one of the main challenges.

“The first couple of weeks, people were super excited and we sold out regularly,” Guerra said. “Brisket right now is our No. 1 seller.”

The business also offers platters for larger gatherings; a number of side dishes including coleslaw, barbecue beans and coleslaw; and has a rotating variety of desserts available. There is also a children’s menu featuring hamburgers, grilled cheese, quesadilla and macaroni and cheese.

Shirewood Smokehouse is open Thursday-Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until the day’s product is gone, which typically is around 5 p.m. For information, visit its Facebook page.