Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque in Stillwater to close

Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque, a staple in the Stillwater restaurant scene for the past 10 years, is closing its doors for good after Saturday’s service.

Co-owner Tim McKee of Octo Fishbar (and previously La Belle Vie and so many more) said he and chef Shawn Smalley were at the end of their lease and decided it was time.

“It was reported that we were forced out,” McKee said. “We weren’t. It really, really sucks for us and our staff to close down the restaurant, but financially, it wasn’t headed in the right direction.”

The pirate- and barbecue-themed restaurant, which was featured in 2012 on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” was popular with locals, particularly in the summer months.

But that was part of the problem, McKee said.

“Winter in Stillwater is particularly challenging,” he said. “It’s pretty much just a wait until summer.”

McKee said Smalley doesn’t have immediate plans for his next job — they hadn’t initially planned to close so soon.

“We had a good run,” McKee said. “It was 10 years. The hard part for me is I think it was an important part of the Stillwater community. Shawn and I both live in Stillwater and we’ll miss it. … It was such a special concept — everyone had a little bit of trouble making sense of it all when it first opened, but once people got to know it, it made sense.”

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