Smoke shack

Local restaurant reopens after fires


Wayne Shellnutt smiles with his daughter, River. The baby girl will turn 1 year old in 2023. Photo courtesy of Samantha Shellnutt

Mars Smith

Wayne and Samantha Shellnutt’s lives fell out from under their feet on Dec. 30, 2021. The Shellnutts lost their home, their business, and all of their possessions. Their beloved barbecue restaurant in Superior, Wayne’s Smoke Shack, was nearly destroyed.
Somehow, Samantha Shellnutt found the good in her situation.
“Despite how crazy and tragic it all was, I’ve never experienced more love and compassion and generosity from everyone in the community,” Shellnutt said.
Many local businesses that were lost in the fire have not considered rebuilding. Yet, the Shellnutts were not ready to give up hope. They launched a Gofundme after the fire, hoping to raise $5,000.
They didn’t receive $5,000.
They received $40,000 from the community, and immediately started fixing up their restaurant on New Year’s Day of 2022.
When the Shellnutts returned to their restaurant, it was nearly destroyed. The roof had burnt and caved in, water damage had ruined the kitchen, and smoke got into every piece of technology. Samantha, nearly seven months pregnant, shoveled snow and ash out of her restaurant.
In their downtime during construction, the Shellnutts bought a farm in order to expand the Smoke Shack’s sustainability.
“We’re putting in a lot of energy to the farm right now,” Shellnutt said. “Our goal is to end up having a complete full circle, farm-to-table restaurant. Even though the business has been shut down, we’ve been working hard during this little break.”
The Shellnutts are bouncing back from the fires. Each day, the Smoke Shack grows closer and closer to reopening. The Shellnutts are excited to return to serving the community.
“We are trying to put all of our love and energy into this one place,” Shellnutt said. “Wayne always says he wants it to feel like people are coming into his home at the restaurant.”
Today, a year and a week since the fire, Wayne’s Smoke Shack reopened. In addition, the Shellnutts have something else to look forward to.
Three months from today, their daughter, River Shellnutt, will turn 1 year old.
“We have taken this time to try and find a new place to live and rebuild our life here,” Samantha said.
As she and her husband turn their focus back to the Smoke Shack, Shellnutt wants to gather the community together.
“Before the Smoke Shack, we would do these Sunday barbecues where Wayne would just invite, you know, 20 people over to the house and feed them a brisket he’d been smoking for over 24 hours,” Shellnutt said. “He wants the Smoke Shack to keep that same vibe and energy where everything is high quality, hormone-free, and has antibiotic-free ingredients.”
The Shellnutts have high hopes for the restaurant, and see its growing potential as the reopening date nears. The community means the world to Wayne, and the Smoke Shack represents a landmark of community growth and the Shellnutts’ perseverance.
Slowly but surely, both Louisville and Superior will heal from the trauma of the Marshall Fire, and the Shellnutts will nourish both the stomachs and the souls of their community once again.
“We just love feeding people, love breaking bread with our friends and family, and we’re really excited to finally be able to do that again,” Shellnutt said.