Skip to main content

Stillwater BBQ joint featured on Food Network is closing

Owner confirms Smalley's Caribbean BBQ and Pirate Bar is being forced out its current location.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

Two years ago, the Food Network declared some of the finest barbecue in the country could be had at Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar in Stillwater. But not much longer.

Owner Shawn Smalley confirmed on Thursday to the Stillwater Current that a "conflict about the lease" will lead to the space closing after this weekend. News of the potential closing first circulated in a Wednesday afternoon report from Eater Twin Cities.

“I didn’t want this to happen,” Smalley told the Stillwater Current. “I’m f*****g pissed off, and I’m really sad. This is not how I wanted it to end.”

The pirate-themed diner known for its Jamaican jerk barbecue is housed in a building (at 423 Main Street South) that's under new ownership, Eater said. 

A few days ago, restaurant owners learned they would have to close for "unspecified reasons."

Smalley's has been a popular dining spot in Stillwater since its opening in 2008. It's the brainchild of chef Shawn Smalley and Tim McKee, the James Beard Award winning chef who once ran La Belle Vie – where Eater says Smalley once worked.

The eatery has been featured on the Food Network four times, including on an episode Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives where hostGuy Fieri braved a basket of fiery "666 Wings" containing an ingredient Chef Smalley calls "death juice."

Besides flaming hot chicken, the restaurant also serves up smoked meats, seafood, jerk tacos, and a mac and cheese that will be sorely missed by many.

This guy claims the last chance to sample the menu is Saturday:

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-12-02 at 11.43.05 AM

Keith Ellison, other AGs settle with CarMax over recall disclosures

As part of the settlement, CarMax now must disclosure open recalls online and on the lot.

police lights squad car

Man kidnaps 2-year-old daughter in St. Paul, crashes after pursuit in Minneapolis

The incident involved both police departments in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

police lights

Boys aged 15, 16 arrested after shooting of teen in Woodbury

The victim suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.


Police: Woman found dead with 'traumatic injuries' inside Moorhead home

Police are investigating the incident as a homicide.

Screen Shot 2022-12-02 at 7.59.36 AM

St. Paul's East Side Bar closes after two-and-a-half years in business

The bar opened just as the COVID-19 pandemic closed bars and restaurants.

Police tape

Police: Man and woman found dead inside Rochester home

An investigation is ongoing as of Friday morning.


Hospital chiefs say nursing strike will come at 'worst possible time'

A nurses union announced an almost three-week strike to take place in the Twin Cities.


Sven Sundgaard: What's in store for MN's weather in December?

Sundgaard recaps Minnesota's fall and looks ahead to December.


Screen Shot 2022-09-21 at 9.12.44 PM

Beloved Stillwater pirate chef Shawn Smalley dies at 45

He ran Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar for a decade.

Caribbean Smokehouse Stillwater

Stillwater restaurant says its temporary closure is now permanent

Caribbean Smokehouse closed in November, and won't be re-opening.

Lift Bridge buys land for its $10M new Stillwater home

It will allow it to double the size of its taproom, and churn out significantly more beer.

Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 12.29.06 PM

Stillwater bar with prominent patio closes after 3 years

Lion's Tavern is permanently closed, its owners have announced.