Back in the family: Son opens smokehouse restaurant in Hatfield in same spot where his parents once ran Smithsonian Grill

  • The Legacy Craft Smoke House in Hatfield owned by Zachary and Ashley Langlois. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Zachary Langlois plates to-go order at his new restaurant called the Legacy Craft Smokehouse in Hatfield. Behind him is Melanie Nareau, the line cook. STAFF PHOTOS/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Zachary and Ashley Langlois with their son Krew, at their newly opened restaurant, Legacy Craft Smoke House in Hatfield. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Zachary Langlois puts an order together at his newly opened restaurant called the Legacy Craft Smoke House in Hatfield. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Smoke House Platter with brisket, pulled pork, baby back ribs, corn bread, macaroni and cheese and fried brussels sprouts at the Legacy Craft Smoke House in Hatfield. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Zachary Langlois pulls out ribs from the smoker at his newly opened restaurant called the Legacy Craft Smoke House in Hatfield. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Zachary Langlois slices a brisket just pulled out of the smoker at his newly opened restaurant called the Legacy Craft Smoke House in Hatfield. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Zachary Langlois pulls out a brisket from the smoker at his newly opened restaurant called the Legacy Craft Smoke House in Hatfield. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Zachary Langlois puts an order together at his newly opened restaurant called the Legacy Craft Smoke House in Hatfield. Behind him is Melanie Nareau, the line cook. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/27/2021 3:47:24 PM

HATFIELD — When Legacy Craft Smokehouse opened earlier this month at 127 Elm St., it brought owner Zach Langlois back to the same building where his family ran the Smithsonian Grill and Bar for more than a decade.

Frequently passing by what had become Grill ‘N Chill, while visiting his parents who live a mile or so away, Langlois says he saw an opportunity in the site to change his career path after time as a stoneworker.

“I would look at it and say ‘that could be back in my family,’” says Langlois, 25. “When that closed, I knew I had to pull the trigger.”

With support from his wife, Ashley, 27, whom he describes as the rock of his own family that now includes infant Krew, and encouragement from his mother and father, he took the plunge into running a restaurant. “I’ve always been in the restaurant industry and love talking to people,” Langlois said.

And it was Ashley’s idea, he said, that barbecue should be at its core.

“In the south, it’s a religion down there,” Langlois said. “I’m attempting to bring the same mentality here.”

The smokehouse, serving what are called low and slow smoked meats and all prepared within hours of being served, is built around the automatic rotisserie smoker, where 720 pounds of meat can be cooked at once. That smoker, set up outside the restaurant, was the major expense in starting up the business, but Langlois said he was fortunate to get assistance with the purchase from his aunt.

Using a two-round method, Langlois starts meats like brisket and pulled pork each day at midnight or shortly after. Then, at around 6 a.m., the ribs, turkey breasts, half chickens and lil smokies, candied bacon wrapped meatballs, go on the smoker. This allows the meats to be ready for both lunch and dinner customers. Below the slowly rotating platforms is the fire made up of cherry and oak wood logs, with the cherry pieces burning faster and smokier than the oak pieces.

Though he and his family had little experience in barbecue, Langlois said he experimented and went through a “trial and error” period alongside his father. He also used Instagram to be in contact with people who specialize in barbecue, getting advice and recommendations from cooks in Texas who were quick to respond. Several YouTube videos helped him determine what would work and not work.

“Barbecue is a lot of not rushing. You have to trust the process that the meat will do what it does,” Langlois said.

In fact, the brisket, which Langlois said is the staple of any smokehouse or barbecue joint, can take 14 to 20 hours to complete. When the brisket hits a temperature of 200 to 203 degrees, he pull them off and the product can then stay hot for hours.

The menu also includes slow-cooked macaroni and cheese, a variety of sandwiches, including pastrami melts made from meat cured for 11 days, salads topped with barbecue chicken and sides such as french fries, smoked baked beans and fried brussel sprouts.

Langlois intends to work with local farms, such as Bardwell and Honey Pot, to get vegetables and procure grass-fed meats at some point. “Our meats are the core of the menu,” Langlois said.

Any menu items can be made gluten free or allergy free at no extra charge. Rubs on the meats are already gluten free, and in the kitchen nothing with wheat goes into the fryolator.

So far, Legacy has seen an “astounding response,” with people placing their orders online through Facebook or calling the restaurant. Advance orders can be made for the next day or the following weekend, as well.

Starting a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic, Langlois said he trying to be safe with takeout. People can pay in advance and pick up the food at the door with little to no contact.

The five employees, including a head chef and a sous chef, do a self check for any signs of illness, and wear masks and gloves when handling the meals. “There’s literally never a time their skin contacts the food,” Langlois said. Microban 24 disinfectant spray goes on all surfaces every night.

Besides the appeal of barbecue, Langlois credits his parents, who always supported the schools and community fundraisers. “They’ve been responsible for establishing our name in the Pioneer Valley,” Langlois said.

Peter Langlois, who since 2012 has run the Smithsonian from a Route 5 site, said it is exciting to see the 127 Elm site go full circle, observing that he took it from a bar to a legitimate restaurant. “We’re really happy for him and he has our support 100%,” Langlois said.

The interior has again been overhauled with a fresh coat of paint, using mostly black and dark red colors on the walls and the wooden booths. Along one wall is the restaurant’s logo, featuring a bull, done by local artist Kiersten Mulcare.

Eventually, Zach Langlois said he hopes to get people back indoors to dine and have drinks at the bar.

“If we can get through this, I can’t wait to see what happens,” Langlois said. “I hope to create an atmosphere  where people can enjoy good food and good friends.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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