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Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar Gets the Heave Ho [Updated]

Allegedly building owners are forcing the wildly popular place out of business

It’s been nearly ten years of rum and Caribbean barbecue in Stillwater for chef Shawn Smalley, but now the restaurant at 423 Main Street will close after Saturday January 13.

Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar first opened in 2008 by Smalley and Tim McKee. McKee is James Beard Award winning chef who once ran La Belle Vie, where Smalley once worked. At the time, Smalley said they opened this restaurant, “Because this is how we cooks treat ourselves. When I was at La Belle Vie every Friday or Saturday, I’d make chicken wings for the staff. I like to make them really hot because everyone’s really hungry at the end of the night and they got tortured trying to eat them. I get some sick pleasure out of that.”

Chef and head pirate, Shawn Smalley
Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque/Facebook

That wicked humor and spice was steeped in the restaurant and adjacent Pirate Bar with its shelves lined in rum bottles. The dining room churned out charred pimento-wood smoked wings with varying degrees of evil heat in addition to meats, jicama slaw and a mac and cheese that garnered a cult-like following.

Saturday will be the restaurant’s final day.

Update: Smalley told the Stillwater Current that a “conflict” with the lease has led to the restaurant closing. He said, ““I didn’t want this to happen. I’m fucking pissed off, and I’m really sad. This is not how I wanted it to end.”

Meanwhile, partner Tim McKee refutes reports that the restaurant was forced out, telling the Star Tribune that the lease was up in March and the building owners gave Smalley’s Barbeque an early out.