STORY    |     MISSION    |     FOOD    |     THE EXPERIENCE


STORY



Taino Smokehouse History
Growing up my father was always trying to cut costs around the house, so we always used a cast iron stove in our living room during winter. He would go get wood every weekend and split it up with our neighbor. So from a young age watching a fire was part of our regular routine. Keeping with the cost cutting theme our big family vacation was an annual camping trip to the Burlingame campgrounds in Rhode Island. Morning and night my sister and I would poke at the fire while hypnotized by its dancing flames.
Gazing into a fire seems to satisfy a primal need that has existed since the dawn of man. My sister and I surely had this primal instinct because the two of us most certainly were fire bugs.
Taino Smokehouse History
When my sister and I came of age we were finally ready for some real camping, camping without running water, stores, or bathrooms. So our parents took us to the Saco River, and that was where we were introduced to food prepared on an open flame. Traversing the Saco River by canoe, means canoing for the day and camping on one of the many sandy beaches at night. There are no resources on this river, just you, the canoe, any supplies aboard, and the beautiful night skies untainted by any light pollution. Cooking food, in particular meat, requires a fire, so it is necessary to gather firewood and dig out a fire pit in the sand. Combinging two of my favorite things... fire and food I was in love with this method instantly.

Taino Smokehouse History
As you can imagine my sister and I grew up and moved out. After graduating Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in Computer Science I had a hard time finding a job so I decided to attend graduate school. A cross country college tour was in order. So in 2003 my 1987 Nissan Maxima and I took to the open road. A solo cross country trip around the country applying to grad schools opened my eyes to all of America's greatest wonders.
Taino Smokehouse History
We don't have a lot of BBQ in the northeast, pizza is our thing! Clam chowder, lobster, spaghetti and meatballs, and I love all of it. While traveling cross county I was inspired by all of the BBQ restaurants, and most of the towns had a few. Connecticut probably had 10 BBQ restaurants in the entire state back in 2003. Experiencing all of this BBQ really brought me back to those sandy nights on the Saco River and roasting meat over the coals.


Taino Smokehouse History
I had my first authentic smoked rack of ribs in St. Louis, Bison Rib Eye steak in Wyoming, fig milkshake in Arizona and authentic Mexican scrambled eggs in Austin, Texas. If you have ever enjoyed the scenery of the Dakotas, or walked through the stagnant air of the red woods, rolled in the white sands of New Mexico, then you have probably felt a sense of freedom and connection to this beautiful earth. The feeling I got really can't be put into words with out sounding like hippy but it felt great. So experiencing this BBQ and being on such a natural high from the land and journey, there is no doubt that I subconciously associated this food with this feeling. Quite simply, BBQ feels good, our country is beautiful, and boy do I love to watch a fire burn. After returning from this trip within a week or so the "feeling" had gone. I was back in the Northeast and back to the short answers, fast driving, a town lacking vistas, and oh yeah... no BBQ! At the time I felt that we were really missing out on some great things back home. If you have never driven across the United States from coast to coast, I highly recommend you do, at least once in your life.

A couple of months after my trip I was offered a job as a software developer in a data center. In the nine years that followed I met my wife fell in love with her as well as Thai and Indian food, bought a house, and became comfortable. I unfortunately gave up my more adventurous ways and all activity based hobbies such as skiing. Being too tired from work, and not in shape, I endured many years of inactivity in general. In 2007 my father had a life changing stroke. His and my life would be changed forever... I bought a house closer to him, greatly increasing my distance to work. As time passed his health and ability to care for himself degraded. So my wife and I decided to take him on a cross country trip before he completely lost his senses. We traveled to many states out west and visited many of the National Parks. On this trip my love for bbq was renewed, I was so comfortable and settled
Taino Smokehouse History
I had forgotten the thrill and sense of adventure a cross country trip brings. Between the trip and my father's health, I was really questioning my life decisions and my passion for living. Why had I given up living? In a way we are trained to chase a good job, a spouse, a house with a white picket fence, and of course a dog. Well it isn't all it's cracked up to be. A seed had been planted and life change for me was coming.

Taino Smokehouse First Catering Robin Williams
Life is short, and I had stopped living it. I had given up my passion for life and adventure, I had officially settled. My father's stroke, and my second journey across this beautiful country had truly sparked a mid-life awakening. From Seattle to Key West, this country was eating bbq, and I was determined to share this with Connecticut. I also wanted to start playing with fire again. So I decided to open up a restaurant from scratch with no experience, just my good ole taste buds. The restaurant had to have a smoker, which burns wood, but that just wasn't enough fire for me so we also have a wood fired grill as well. That was the entire concept from the start, grilling and smoking meat, using wood. I found a small place for a cheap rent and started researching and learning how to make it all work.

September 2012 we had our first catering gig, the guest of honor Robin Williams. This was a charity event for the Christopher Reeves Foundation, their mission statement: "The Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy." This event definitely set the tone for our entire business, and after three years we are riding that first day high. We got to give our services for a good cause, and we got to meet a legendary human being. In 2017 we will have opened our second location, burning more wood than ever. I am skiing again now, and I have a son who is by far the love of my life. My mid-life awakening has passed and I am living again!

MISSION



Taino Smokehouse is dedicated to providing its guests a great restaurant experience. Here at Taino Smokehouse our primary mission is to provide a safe healthy environment for our staff and guests. Our goal is to provide high quality food, good service, and inspire creative ideas through our food and environment. Providing a great experience requires a team of highly trained staff members, who understand our mission. Taino Smokehouse continuously maintains a conscious effort to consider our impact on the environment and surrounding community.

Our biggest focus on your great restaurant experience is our food. We will always strive to sell delicious and remarkable food and drinks. In this day and age it is easy and cheap to consume processed and preserved food. We believe you should have a healthy, affordable alternative. We consistently maintain the highest standards of quality, freshness and seasonality. Our passion for this industry shows, we enjoy food and people and it shows. Food should be fun and delicious, we strive to make mouths smile!

Taino Smokehouse strives to consistently provide our customers with impeccable service by demonstrating warmth, a sense of welcomeness, knowledge, professionalism and integrity in our work. We want every guest to know they are important to us and we do genuinely care for people. We try our best to guage the level of interaction a guest desires. Maintaining a restaurant that is comprehensive and exceptional in its attention to every detail of operation is important. Taino Smokehouse provides a friendly, cooperative and rewarding environment which encourages long-term, satisfying, growth employment for our staff.

FOOD



Taino Smokehouse History
Food... What can we say? This is the reason we got into this business. We love people and FOOD! Taino Smokehouse strives to provide new food choices for Connecticut. Food should be exciting, innovative, fresh, visually appealing and tasty. Our goal is to provide high quality food that makes an impression on our guests. Freshness and quality should always be a priority in every restaurant. Freshness and quality are not always on the path of least resistance. Quality food is expensive, freshness demands volume, and food preparation(labor) is expensive. Let's use chicken wings for an example. A restaurant can purchase chicken wings prebreaded, prefried and frozen. Quality - C+, Frozen prepackaged wings are not of the best stock, Freshness - D, they are frozen, Food Preparation - A+, nothing to do! Buying these wings would make life easy for every restauranter, but clearly the focus here would be purely monetary. Taino Smokehouse has a passion for food, our restaurant and this venture was one of choice, one of love. It never feels like a job or that of monetary gain. So Taino Smokehouse uses fresh wings, those wings are marinated for 24 hours, then smoked for 3 hours, cooled, and then flash fried to order. Many man hours go into our wings and other products, but we love to do it, it gives us full control, we have a unique product and quite frankly people deserve it. Freshness Cost: espensive for the restaurant, but same price as frozne for the guest. Easy choice no?
Taino Smokehouse uses a wood fired grill and a wood fired smoker, the only restaurant in Connecticut to use both.

THE EXPERIENCE



Why do people choose a particular restaurant? There are many answers\factors, Food, Ambience, Service, Location, Companionship\Recognition, Price, Interest and Conveniance. All can contribute or detract from the experience of a guest. In the hospitality industry the experience is the MOST important thing. How a guest feels during and after the experience we provide is what drives our business. A guest is paying for a positive and enjoyable experience, we want them to feel better than they did when they arrived, at at the very worst.. the same. It is important to keep in mind all guests weigh the various factors differently. Different strokes for different folks. When an experience falls short, it is up to a qualified staff member to identify the guest's expectations (factor weights) and recover the experience. Some people might not be interested in the ambience at all, just the price, their main goal quick, cheap sustenance. In order for training we have created an acronym to help us all remember these important factors, SCRIPFA.

     SCRIPFA
      Service Conveniance Recognition Interest Price Food Ambience

Let's review these items in detail:
  • Service
    Good service is important we can all agree on that. Having your every need and want met in a timely fashion is very satisfying. In addition the opposite also applies, needs and wants not being met is very aggravating. Many diners say the best food in the universe doesn't make up for poor service. It is hard to enjoy things when you are angry or aggravated. The server serves as ambassador between the guest and the kitchen. The server should ensure all of a guest's requests are met and protect the guest's overall experience. They should protect the guest from kitchen mistakes and other various factors they can control such as clean silverware, glasses, volume on the radio, etc... Mistakes will occassionaly slip by a server and affect the guest. Mistakes such as an overcooked steak or hair in food to name a few present an opportunity for the server/manager to really show the guest the restaurant cares. The server/manager must move swiftly once the guest has informed them of the situation, problems such as these need to be addressed immediately. Often times a sincere apology in addition to a free glass of wine and/or dessert will boost a guest's experience higher than if the mistake was never made in the first place. It is crucial that we capatilize on these events... these are the times when our guest requires the highest level of attention. Show them you care! If they feel the love, then so will your establishment.
  • Conveniance
  • Conveniance and Location can definitely affect your restaurant business. Being in a location that is close to your guests makes all the difference in the world. A person's favorite restuarant that happens to be a 2 hour drive, will definitley limit the number of annual visits. Some examples of conveniance and location helping a business would be:
    1. Highway Rest Area and other Traveling Convenient Locations
      Imagine the kids are getting cranky, everyone is hungry and you have been driving for 3 hours. For the most part, whatever the rest area is selling, and for whatever price... you are buying. Having a location such as this allows a restaurant to deprioritize the other factors of a guest's experience. The traveling family usually plans on spending money on overpriced convenient, so they are mentally prepared to overpay and their ultimate need is quick easy food. A highway rest area provides EXACTLY what they were looking for. More examples of convenient locations would be, Airport, Trains, Ferries, and other isolated areas.
    2. Food Trucks
      Once upon a time when I was working in the corporate world, a food truck would arrive promptly at 9am every morning. About 20 Employees would line up like donkeys and buy food and/or drinks. Service was ok, food was ok, price was ok, but conveniance was off the charts.
    3. Hotels, Hospitals, and Workplace
      Staying in a hotel? Is it late? Tired from traveling? Isn't it conveniant there is a restaurant and bar an elevator button away. Hospital cafeterias do a tremendous business. What is better than a subsidized lunch for hospital staff or an emotionally drained family member all without leaving the building.
    4. Movie Theatres, Amusement Parks, Concert and Sports Venues
      As guests attending these types of places, we don't have options to bring in our own food so options and prices are outside our control. This is good business for these eateries because they are in complete control during these visits. They have monopolized your taste buds, and guess what we still order! Outrageous prices and mediocre food, and we still buy. Only a few of us will complain about the prices and the options because our expectations are such that we EXPECT to get lower quality food at rip off prices.
    a highway restop
  • Recognition
  • Recognition and Company goes a long way in any service business. People want to be recognized, people want to feel welcome and comfortable. Taino Smokehouse has many guests that share Christmas cards, gifts and their time because such a relationship has been built. A place that feels like home will always do well. I think of a dive bar that serves bad drinks, bad food, and it is located on the wrong side of the tracks. This bar will have regulars that come because they feel welcome, staff immediately recognizes them and greets them. The feeling that gives most people is a very wonderful thing. Maybe a regular is lonely and the bartender lends his/her ear all night because that is the experience factor that matters most to that regular. Quick story: I remember seeing an elderly woman (complete stranger) at the local greasy spoon diner one morning. Later that day I ran into her at another location. I said, "Hello! I saw you this morning at the greasy spoon." Bewildered for a minute she soon responded, "Yes I hate that place, the food is horrible but I go everyday." Laughting I said, "Why do you go there everyday if you hate the food?" She smiles and replies, "Because I love the owner and all my girlfriends go." This is a perfect example of people hanging their hats and spending their money at a place that feels like home.
  • Interest
  • Interest and Novelty style restaurants are my favorite. In addition to a positive restaurant experience they might provide a NEW life experience. People want to be surprised and try new things. This is the category that contains all of the interesting novelty restaurants. Hibachi was rare once upon a time, there are less of a novelty now but when it all started it was amazing. Flying food, fire, knife tricks, and a goofy comedian for a chef. It was a brilliant concept that exploded. Any new idea that creates a buzz and provides a new experience is going to be successful, at least in the beginning. I say in the beginning because once the Novelty wears off there has to be something else providing value to the experience. The rainforest dining experience comes to mind. The concept was to build a jungle for a dining room with animatronics and lightning storms and how exciting it will be! Well after going once or twice you start to focus on the other details of the restaurant such as the overpriced mediocre food. So this equation is successful for a few years and then not so much. Here is a list of some of these novelty restaurants, give them a try:
    1. Dining in the dark - yep, you dine in the dark.
    2. Dinner in the Sky - Be suspended by a crane with 21 fellow guests why someone serves you.
    3. Casa Bonita - A mexican themed restaurant with cliff divers!
    4. Mars 2112 - Mars in NYC, did well in the beginning then the novelty wore off, check out this article.
    5. Ninja New York - Have some great Japanese food while ninjas roam about.
    6. and many... many more
  • Price
  • Let's face it we live in a capitalist economy, take out what you put in. People do focus on price and it is important. Many fast food restuarants would cease to exist if their pricing wasn't as low as it is. The primary goal of a restaurant is to remove the price from the experience equation. How is this accomplished? Price is removed from an experience by setting the right price. Guests expect to pay for something of value, including a restaurant experience. So as long as the price is reasonable and equal value is provided, price will be removed from the equation. Don't be afraid to charge $50 for 3 week dry aged steak. The guest is getting an equal valued item in return for that money.
  • Food
  • For myself and many many others this is the MOST important thing in the restaurant business. I fell in love with a Thai restaurant during my corporate career, I would visit roughly 3 times a week. When Taino Smokehouse was in the planning stages I started researching the restaurant business, and started asking myself why do I eat where I eat. This Thai restaurant has stains on the walls, stained carpet, damaged ceiling, average service, and an inconvenient location. These weak factors I noticed/cared not, because the food was that good. Food should be exciting, innovative, fresh, visually appealing and tasty.
  • Ambience
  • Ambience refers to the character and atmosphere of a place. Often times people will frequent an establishment because of the location or atmosphere. Think about a fine dining restaurant with mahogany walls, white tablecloths, with an ambience that reeks of sophistication. A guest might choose this location to impress their company or to celebrate a special occassion. Restaurants on beaches, rivers, or any other vista or awe inspiring atmosphere will always lure customers who seek to enjoy a salt air breeze or view. A balcony with a fresh view of an endless sea is enough to erase all other experience factors.