Smokin’ hot

Odd Squad BBQ Smoke House opens in Livingston
Dwight Harriman — Enterprise Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
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Enterprise photos by Nate Howard

Odd Squad BBQ Smoke House owner Gary Debban sits next to the restaurant’s counter with his assistant manager, Brandi Harper.

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Gary Debban pulls smoked brisket from one of his smokers.

If you’ve seen the big yellow signs for Odd Squad BBQ Smoke House on a white building at the corner of West Lewis and South Second streets and wondered, “When is it going to open?”, wonder no more.

Odd Squad BBQ, owned by Gary Debban, is indeed open for business. Debban started recently with lunch meals, and will have a soft opening today, with a grand opening in a few weeks.

For his restaurant he repurposed a building constructed in 1950 that in more recent years has served as an office building. In it he created two seating areas that comfortably seat a total of 36. Old photos of Livingston and Park County line rustic-looking walls in the main seating area, and at a couple of tables paper towel dispensers stand ready to help hungry patrons with cleanup.

At the back of the restaurant, Debban has installed some serious commercial smokers (“All my meats are smoked,” he said). One is an Old Hickory unit “that’ll cook 500 pounds of meat at one time,” Debban noted. Another is a smaller Old Hickory that can cook 200 pounds of meat. A large stack of apple wood, with cherry wood on the way, provides the fuel.

To round out his cooking gear ensemble, Debban has a hooded flat-top grill, along with deep fryers, with a sophisticated “make-up air” unit that provides heated air or air-conditioned air as needed.

Debban — hailing originally from Payette, Idaho, and most recently a longtime Seattle resident who moved here a little over a year ago — is a barbecue pro. He’s been competitive barbecuing for 10 years, even running his own competitions. He’s taken first place in a Kansas City Barbeque Society competition, and over the years has won various awards for his ribs, brisket and pulled pork. As if that weren’t enough, he’s also a certified judge for the Kansas City Barbecue Society.

Debban, who used to run an automotive machine shop in Seattle, said he came up with his restaurant’s name from his buddy’s automotive shop called “Old Squad Garage.”

“So we kind of kicked off from that,” he laughed.

Checking out the Odd Squad BBQ Smoke House menu will set your mouth to watering.

The restaurants mainstays are beef brisket ($13.50), meatloaf served with homemade mashed potatoes and gravy ($13.99), pork ribs (ranging from a quarter rack for $13.50 to a full rack for $26.75), half a smoked chicken ($12.99), two-meat plate (chicken or any two meats from the barbecue plates for $15.99) and mac and cheese with brisket or pulled pork ($9.99).

The menu also includes sandwiches made with smoked meats that range in price from $8.99 to $11.99, and appetizers.

To go with all this, there’s Debban’s signature cole slaw, homemade sauces and rubs (“I make all my own rubs from scratch,” he said), baked beans, corn bread and desserts — from lemon cake to pecan pie made with smoked pecans.

Beer and wine will also be available in a couple of months when his beer and wine license is processed.

Debban said he’s gotten great reviews.

“Everybody that has eaten here has loved it,” he said, adding that people kept asking him when he was going to open.

Late spring and summer will feature covered outside seating. And inside, Debban soon plans to provide white-linen fine dining on Friday and Saturday nights with smoked prime rib, pork tenderloin and meatloaf. The restaurant also plans to provide catering.

Hours for Odd Squad BBQ Smoke House, which is located at 123 W. Lewis St., are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. To reach the restaurant, call 333-2434.