When one thinks of BBQ the last thing you think of is the Soviet Union. But in the small post-Soviet state of Moldova, with the shadow of Russia still looming over it, three men are working to bring the camaraderie of beer, barbecue, and community to their home. These men have been working for almost a year now, battling corruption and disbelief – with the dream of bringing BBQ to Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova
The Republic of Moldova has a total population of 3.5 million people with the majority population (around 800 000), located around in or around the Chisinau metropolitan area. Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine and unlike its neighbors it continues its uphill battle to overcome the Soviet hangover. Moldova’s progress forward is impeded left and right by corruption; many say that ‘opening and running a clean business here is near to impossible’ however that is just what SMOKEHOUSE BBQ is doing.
SMOKEHOUSE isn’t just about great food; it is about blazing a trail for the next generation of Moldovan entrepreneurs.
“Some people don’t see the future in Moldova, but we do! We see the opportunity and want to show that great things can be done if you stand up to the social problems instead of running away from them”
When this restaurant opens this summer, it will not only be local attraction but a center for movers and shakers, Moldovans who share this dream of raising their nation out of poverty and corruption into prosperity. The SMOKEHOUSE team has been sharing their journey through their blog (http://opensource-entrepreneurship.org/) where they detail their trials, tribulations and successes. Follow them as they laugh, scratch their heads, and overcome the many obstacles in their way.
So who are the men behind SMOKEHOUSE BBQ? They are former Peace Corp Volunteers- David Smith and Matt Stahlman; and their Moldovan friend Vlad Shuleansky. After completing their 2 year service in Moldova, David and Matt decided to stay in the country they had grown to love and bring savory BBQ and unique community. They had already tested their idea during their Peace Corps service by completing a series of BBQ food booths at concerts and festivals to raise money for Moldovan charities. Seeing the success they had, they quickly brought on board their friend Vlad Shuleansky, an experience Moldova business man who shared their dreams not only for a restaurant, but for Moldova.
Vlad, David and Matt aim to bring a new taste on the market- the taste of smoked meat. Their menu is going to be the same at an authentic American BBQ restaurant, where they will focus on pulled pork and other slow cooked meats, a variety of BBQ sauces that represent different regions of the United States, such as a mustard-based Carolina sauce, and a sweet tomato-based Kansas City sauce.
SMOKEHOUSE BBQ is the first of a kind restaurant in Moldova with unique menu, drinks and most importantly the goal of building a community of entrepreneurs and BBQ lovers. The founders have different educational backgrounds and ideas, but there is one thing that unites them together- they all believe in Moldova.
To learn more about SMOKEHOUSE BBQ and how you can help David, Matt, and Vlad, visit their campaign page where you can receive fantastic gifts for your support:
The above article was written in collaboration with Igor Semeniuc and Paden Chang.