Hollifield moved up to pitmaster at Memphis Minnie’s and later at Cedar Hill in the Marina. He opened his own barbecue truck called Seismic BBQ and then ran a ghost kitchen in San Francisco before the pandemic decimated the food industry. Food industry workers scattered to other places like Salt Lake City seeking jobs or moved on to other careers.
Friends who moved to Portland a decade ago encouraged Hollifield to move north. Portland’s food, cocktail and craft brewing scene was a major lure.
“I looked at San Francisco and saw an industry in ruin. I packed up my catering van and moved up,” he said.
While staying in Ridgefield, he went to get a haircut at The Barbers in Salmon Creek and noticed a for rent sign on the Pizza Schmizza space. He called the owner and entered into a lease then converted the pizza restaurant into a barbecue place.
Pizza Schmizza’s pizza ovens came with the space but weren’t necessary for barbecue. Normally, these expensive ovens could be sold. However, the large number of restaurants going out of business created a glut of used equipment. Cutting up the ovens (they couldn’t fit through the doors) and having them hauled away was expensive but necessary.
A J&R Manufacturing wood fire oven sits in the space vacated by the pizza ovens. Each smoker made by this almost 50-year-old company in Mesquite, Texas, is unique. Hollifield had to leave his last smoker, which he called Napoleon after the pig from “Animal Farm,” in San Francisco when he closed his ghost kitchen business.
“I cried when I left my smoker. You get attached,” he said.
The new smoker at Creekside is called Duke in honor of John Wayne. Hollifield’s grandpa was a fan of Westerns. After spending time working with this new equipment, Hollifield understands his new smoker. “I don’t think he’s going to take any nonsense from us,” he said.
Customers can dine in or get takeout and delivery from DoorDash. Hollifield hopes to open in early April. The buildout of the space is complete: the owner is waiting for approval of some final permits from government agencies.