business, Gales Creek, News

A little over one year since opening, the Smokehouse is still growing

It’s been just over one year since Smokehouse Chicken and Guns opened in Gales Creek.

In that time, the new restaurant, launched by former Portland and now Gales Creek resident and restaurateur Dustin Knox, has served a clientele that includes local Gales Creek residents, semi-locals from elsewhere in western Washington County, and travelers heading to or from Tillamook.

If you’re a Gales Creek denizen, you’ll almost certainly recognize a neighbor eating or working there.

If you show up on a Friday or Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m., you’ll be treated to live music in addition to the regular fare, a tradition Knox launched shortly after opening, and one that’s continued since then, bringing nearly 100 live performances to Gales Creek, ranging from locals like René Berblinger, an accomplished musician and part owner of Gales Meadow Farm, to Mike Coykendall, a musician, audio engineer and record producer with enough fame to warrant a Wikipedia page. If you’re a Blitzen Trapper fan, you’ve heard his work. In fact, the Smokehouse has brought out Brian Koch, cofounder of said band to play in Gales Creek as well.

Those are all fairly local names, but you’ll find a taste of the whole globe in the music choices while eating the Latin-inspired chicken menu, which also has burgers, options for those more on a plant-based diet and the “guns” which are, in fact, bite-sized potatoes, perfectly crisped and seasoned.

“They’re usually from like, Brazil, or New Orleans or from the South,” explained Knox during a brief interview in May. He said they plan to continue hosting live music every weekend.

As for the restaurant, which opened for business Saturday, March 25, 2023, things are going well, Knox said.

“It’s still growing, it’s going good,” he said.

He said that one challenge was opening a restaurant during a significant period of inflation.

“It costs what it costs,” he said, noting that he’s not going to buy low-quality frozen products, but aims for a higher-quality ingredient in the food he sells. He doesn’t describe the food as fine-dining, but the Smokehouse is certainly no greasy spoon. The food is well-crafted, a fully-stocked bar serves custom and classic cocktails, and the menu is clearly built with an eye to quality.

He also noted the struggles that face any restaurant: regulations, and difficulty finding workers.

“I’m probably running the prices too cheap,” he noted.

But, with starting a restaurant, he’s found a lot to love in Gales Creek.

“I love that I’ve created this launching pad, facilitating the use of the Tillamook Forest,” Knox said. “It’s certainly not a one-dimensional space.”

Recently, the restaurant added Monday hours and on Monday evenings from around 4 to around 10 p.m., the restaurant now hosts a weekly car, or bike, or tractor meet up (“Meat-Up” as they’ve dubbed it).

“Bring a lawnmower! If it’s cool, we wanna drink a beer and stare at it,” the restaurant said in a notice for the first such event in early May.

“I’m very, very lucky that I’ve met so many great neighbors that have supported me, that have come out and been good friends. I’ve met wonderful people in this community,” Knox said.

“I’m very lucky,” he added.

Smokehouse Chicken and Guns is located in Gales Creek at 55660 NW Wilson River Hwy.

Find them online, which has links to their events calendar, social media, hours and more, at

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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