A new restaurant and bar has opened in McKinney with a big commitment to billiards. Called Smithart's Craft Food & Cheers, it puts billiards right up there as one of its top priorities, along with food and fun atmosphere.
The restaurant is 1751 W. Eldorado Pkwy., previously home to a Mexican restaurant and a sushi buffet, says Jodi Engleson, who co-founded the concept with co-owner Rick Smithart.
"It was vacant, nobody wanted to rent it because it's so large, but for us it was perfect," she says.
Perfect because it gives them plenty of room for billiards, Smithart says.
"I've always been around billiards, my father and grandmother had pool bars, and we had a pool table in our house when I was growing up," he says. "No other restaurant establishment offers seven tables meticulously maintained in a smoke-free environment."
The space is divided into a dining room on one side and a billiard room on the other. There's also an area where people can play darts. There's also the option of doing neither: of just hanging out for some food and drink.
They take an exacting approach to their food, making everything in-house including bread dough and soups. They grind their own chuck for burgers, and pickle vegetables in-house.
Their most popular dishes include their short ribs, which they smoke in-house for five hours; and their roast beef sandwich special, served with a side of roasted sweet potato medallions, each topped with a spoonful of pesto.
There are also meatballs, dumplings, beef skewers, and a coleslaw that Smithart raves about.
Smirthart actually comes from restaurant stock: His mother Debra Smithart-Oglesby worked for Brinker and was CEO and chairman of the board at Denny's.
He spent 20 years in the restaurant business, then went into IT where he co-founded an IT company. But he left that industry to return to the restaurant world.
It's his mother's time-honored recipe they use for their black forest cake, although the buzzy dessert has been their butterscotch pudding, rich with rum.
"Doing this bar seemed like a great addition for McKinney, and there isn't anything else exactly like us," he says. They also pride themselves on broadcasting every game be it football, soccer, hockey, UFC, basketball, baseball, or golf.
"I've played pool forever, always hung out in pool places, and I've also worked in restaurant kitchens," he says. "I wanted to have a place where these two were mixed together."