Smokin’ Joe’s Opens in Santee


Smokin’ Joe’s Barbecue had its Grand Opening celebration on Saturday, January 30, from 2:00-9:00 pm, and it was one busy day for everyone.  The restaurant is located in the Home Depot/Hometown Buffet section of the Town Center, in the same corner spot as two previous eateries.  From the looks of things, this one should be around for the long haul.  Smokin’ Joe Jones himself was on hand to cut the ribbon, greet people, and make sure everything was cooked just right.  I even found out what an “Old Fashion Pig Pick’n” is – but more on that later.

This is the third Smokin’ Joe’s Barbecue in the San Diego area (the others are in Poway and San Diego).  The restaurants have been around for a few years, but Smokin’ Joe’s barbecue style goes back some 60 years to his grandfather and grandmother in Mississippi, where he would help prepare the meats and baste them with the ‘secret’ sauce his grandfather made.  Joe proudly boasts that his special recipe won’t burn on the grill like many sauces, because he doesn’t use brown sugar.  Well, whatever it is he does or doesn’t use, it certainly seems like a winner.  During the two hours I was there taking photos of the goings-on, there was barely a moment for the crew to stop and breathe.  It bothered Joe that people had to wait, sometimes as long as 20 minutes, for their food because of the crowd – but no one seemed to mind.  I had the pulled pork plate with barbecued beans and a huge hunk of corn bread, and I can say the wait was definitely worth it.

Now, about that “Old Fashioned Pig Pick’n” mentioned earlier.  This is where a whole pig is cooked in the smoker for several hours until the outside is black and the inside is falling-apart tender.  Then the succulent sow is cut open and the meat is picked out and chopped up for serving.  It was hard to tell what was the bigger draw here, the process of pick’n or the delectable results – but my guess is the samples of pork Joe  handed out.

I had a chance to talk with Joe later in the day after the busiest time was over.  He has some big plans he hopes to be able to do here in Santee, and my guess is that he can pull them off.  I won’t spoil it for now, but let’s just say that Santee could eventually be the biggest name in barbecue west of the Rockies.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The Santee Smokin’ Joe’s Team: (L-R) Roy Landers, Smokin’ Joe Jones, Andy Lott, Joe Lott

Presentation of a Certificate from Assemblyman Joel Anderson’s Office

Smokin’ Joe Jones Stokes the Smoker with Oak

Santee Chamber of Commerce Members waiting for their orders

Welcome Bouquet from Cookies by Design


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Santee Street Fair Returns

It’s time again to start thinking about the Santee Street Fair.  In fact, the Chamber of Commerce has been thinking about it for weeks now, and much of the preparation work has already been done.  This year’s Street Fair will be even bigger and better than last year’s – and probably even more crowded.  Last year many vendors, especially food vendors, ran out of supplies before the end of the day; this year they will be ready, but the best chance of getting exactly what you want will be if you get there early.

This year the Fair will stretch the entire length of Civic Center Drive and the stage and beer garden will be relocated to provide more space for both.  The entertainment will again include dance groups from the Santee Recreation Department on the Community Stage and headliners on the Main Stage.  This year the Main Stage entertainment will include Lindsay Spurlock (former “Lakeside Idol” winner), The Corvettes, Outta-Sync, and Rockola.

If you are planning to be a part of the Fair as a vendor, click here.

Review of 2009 Santee Street Fair

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Upcoming Grand Opening – Smokin’ Joe’s Barbecue

This Saturday, January 30, the new Smokin’ Joe’s Barbecue will hold its grand opening ceremonies, beginning with a ribbon cutting at 2:00 pm and continuing until 9:00 pm.  There will be games, prizes, drawings for Smokin’ Joe’s barbecue sauce, and an “Old Fashion Pig Pick’n” – whatever that is.  I’ll be there to get some pictures so we’ll all know what a “pig pick’n” is.

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Victory 4 Veterans Makeover Rescheduled

I just got notification that he home makeover for Pearl Harbor Survivor Jim Bounds has been rescheduled because of last week’s storms and this week’s predicted rain.  The new date for the event is Saturday, March 6, after what looks like the brunt of the winter storm season is over.  You can still sign up to help (they have over 70 confirmed so far) from the link on the original story.

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Italia Ristorante Grand (Re)Opening

On Sunday, January 17, Italia Ristorante celebrated its Grand Opening, complete with the First Annual Italia Ristorante Car Show.  This restaurant has been around for quite some time, but the previous owners had allowed both the food and the service to deteriorate to the point of no return.  That’s when Michael and Ravella Cowhey stepped in and took over.  Since they took hold of the reins last September, there has been a complete turnaround – now they are working to overcome the negative reputation the former owners had built up.  If this celebration was any indication, they are well on the way to doing that.

In addition to improving the quality of the restaurant, the Cowheys are determined to be a vital part of the community, and the Car Show was just a start.  They truly care about Santee and want to do what they can to keep it a great place to live.  The Grand Opening was a chance for Santee to see the changes that have been made, especially in the food.  I had a chance to try slices of the regular cheese and pepperoni pizzas, and enjoyed both.  In addition, they are working to bring Chicago heart and style to Santee with their Chicago-style deep dish pizza.  I also had a slice of that, and I have to say that it is more than a mouthful.  I will definitely be going back in the future.  And no, in accord with new federal guidelines, I did not get any special treatment that wasn’t given to any of the others involved in the event.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Italia Risotrante

L-R: John Morley, Virginia & Ronn Hall, Miss Santee – Sierra Billock, Miss Santee Teen – Nicole Ehlke, Santee Councilman John Minto, Ravenna Cowhey, Terry Harris (back), Aramis & Dartanian Cowhey, Michael Cowhey, Thomas Hootman, Sam Jajo, Chamber President John Olsen, Councilman Brian Jones, Rob McNelis (I could not find a picture showing the man behind Sam Jajo, nor did I get his name)

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Warren Savage presents a proclamation from the State of California

Dave Stall of 1170 KCBQ brought his So Cal Off Road Radio show to the celebration

Former Chamber of Commerce President Rob McNelis (at right, with DJ Dennis J) brought his OneStop Party People to provide music for the day

Inside the Sport Bar section


The First Annual Italia Ristorante Car Show


For more Car Show pictures, click here.

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Old Friends in New Places – A JoyfulNess Mercantile Grand Opening

Some of my long-time readers (I hope there are a few of those) or readers of my 2009 wrap-up posts may remember the grand opening last April of SewCalCuties, an eclectic craft store out on Business Route 8.  In less than a year owner Pamela Joy saw her fortunes drop, nearly leaving the area, then rise again when the then-owners of the Apple Crate approached her about selling their location.  That resulted in the creation, with partner Vickie Ness, of A JoyfulNess Mercantile in the former Apple Crate building.  To fans of the Crate, don’t worry – the shop has become part of the co-op that includes the former SewCalCuties, At the Beehive, Chictiques Antiques, and over 30 individual vendors.

According to Pamela, this is the best thing that could have happened to her business.  She now has a larger space in a well-known location, and no longer has to deal with the problem of looking like a converted office – which the original store was.  Plus, with the addition of the other businesses and new vendors, craft and antique shoppers have an all-in-one destination to head for.

Members of the Santee Chamber of Commerce, Miss Santee Teen Nicole Ehlke, and Santee Princess Michelle were on hand for the festivities.  As part of the celebration, cake designer RaNae Thomas created a ‘crafty’ cake and letter cupcakes to welcome the new business operations.  Below are some pictures from the event.

Shopping at A JoyfulNess Mercantile

Miss Santee Teen and Princess check out The Beehive

Cake Designer RaNae Thomas

Cake and Cupcakes

A JoyfulNess Mercantile is located next to The Big Red Barn on Business Route 8, Near Los Coches Rd.

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El Cajon to Hold Forum on ECPAC

El Cajon is holding a forum on Wednesday, January 27, to discuss the future of the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC).  This long-time performance center was recently closed for renovation, and the City Council is looking for ideas for improving it.  If you have ideas to share, or just want to be part of the process, the meeting will be at the Ronald Reagan Center at 195 E. Douglas Ave., starting at 7:00 pm.  I couldn’t find a link for more information, but you can call the City Manager’s office at 619-441-1716.

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