Smoke rising from a new red stack over northwest Rochester next week will signal the firing up of Med City's newest restaurant.

Smoak, described as "a true barbecue joint," is slated to open its doors and heat up its two oak-burning smokers, on Dec. 3 at 2291 Commerce Dr. NW.

That's along West Circle Drive, next to the Sleep Number Bed store and the under construction Tap House West End pub.

A staff of about 40 started training this week in the 5,600-square-foot restaurant, which seats about 200.

The name comes from the two "massive" meat smokers that will burn only oak wood 18 hours a day to produce smoked beef, pork, chicken, turkey and salmon for the restaurant. The owners say that 80 percent of Smoak's menu will come out of the aromatic smokers.

Smoked prime beef brisket will be a signature Smoak offering, with a $1 donation going to Rochester's Hope Lodge for every pound sold. In addition to traditional pulled pork and ribs, the menu also includes smoked bacon, Smoak's own burgers, tacos, jalapeno cheddar sausage and special sandwiches such as the Tornado, which features brisket, pork sausage and haystack onions.

Smoak is the latest project for Rochester's Rocket Restaurant Group. Rocket, founded by four 1997 John Marshall High School graduates, created The Loop Bar and Grill and the Five West Kitchen and Bar in Rochester plus three more restaurants in the Twin Cities.

Smoak is just north of Rocket's Five West.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street. Send tips to or via Twitter to @whereskiger. You can call him at 285-7798.

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