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Porky’s Smokehouse reopens after catching fire last fall

New Bayfield location has high visibility for travelers along U.S. Highway 160
Head manager Joe Richardson prepares his inventory of brisket on Thursday ahead of Porky’s Smokehouse’s soft reopening at its new location in Bayfield. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

BAYFIELD – After an eight-month hiatus caused by a fire, Porky’s Smokehouse has reopened in a new location.

The one-time Ignacio eatery has found a new home in Bayfield right alongside U.S. Highway 160. It has been a somewhat unconventional start to Porky’s tenure as a restaurant and for owner Dayson Goetz. Originally, a food cart turned brick-and-mortar in 2019, this is the third location change for the business.

Its most recent location was at 135 Goddard Ave. in Ignacio, which sustained a fire in September 2023 causing substantial damage.

A newly installed water heater with an old ventilation stack that ran through the ceiling was touching wood, which caused the fire, Goetz said.

The fire burned the entire kitchen at Porky’s Smokehouse days before the restaurant was set to reopen. But before the building owners could go in and start repairing the damage, the state had to evaluate the building and found the building had asbestos, he said.

Head manager Joe Richardson prepares his inventory of pork on Thursday ahead of Porky’s soft reopening at its new location in Bayfield. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

After the discovery, the building owners decided to sell the property, prompting Goetz to find a new location.

In order to accommodate social distancing regulations, the smokehouse had to build a drive-thru at its original location at 85 Goddard Ave. in Ignacio.

In March 2020, like many other government entities, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe shut down its campus in response to the pandemic, which meant fewer customers for nearby businesses such as Porky’s.

But after making it through, he found himself still struggling with the cost of operating, despite having success with the smokehouse.

“In the end, it was running me about $6,000 a month just for the lease and utilities,” Goetz said. “It was a struggle.”

Goetz is optimistic about the move to Bayfield. With only about 9 miles between the two towns, he feels he has developed a customer base in both.

The Bayfield location shares similar dimensions to his locations in Ignacio, and operating along Highway 160 means Porky’s now has more visibility.

“My phone blows up all-day every day, ‘Are you open yet?’ There’s a lot of people from Ignacio that are going to come over here,” Goetz said. “And we had a big following from Bayfield that is excited that we’re right here.”

As one of the then seven restaurants in Ignacio, the loss of Porky’s was significant, said town Mayor Clark Craig.

“We definitely miss Porky’s. They were definitely welcomed and liked in our community,” he said. “We understand the challenges that they had, and for them to relocate to Bayfield while it hurts, we’re very excited for Bayfield.”

Craig said while Porky’s had to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic, Goetz was also a charitable business owner. He would provide free meals to firefighters fighting wildfires during the pandemic.

“Nobody had sit-down services for a while,” he said.

He said businesses are thriving in the community such as Rise and Shine Burritos and Rose Cafe. But it is a challenging environment for them.

Much like other municipalities in Southwest Colorado, the town struggles to find labor and has infrastructure limitations. The lack of commercial kitchen space can make it difficult for restaurants.

“Think about the cost to put something like that in as well,” he said.

With the change in location, Porky’s will maintain its typical menu but with some specialty items left off for the time being. Goetz will still offer the smokehouse’s illustrious Catfish Friday deals and serve hamburgers in addition to barbecue.

Porky’s Smokehouse owner Dayson Goetz stands in front of framed news stories about the establishment and Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters poster on May 13. Goetz was a cast member on the show before opening Porky’s. (Tyler Brown/Durango Herald)

Goetz is still working on applying for a liquor license for the Bayfield location and will continue to offer a free Pabst Blue Ribbon with purchase of a meal – something the restaurant has become known for.

The business has gone away from its counter service model in favor of a wait staff. Goetz believes that will provide better customer service, recognizing customers still enjoy traditional restaurant concepts.

And he brought back his two line cooks who he kept on payroll despite being out of business for the better half of a year.

“This is a main road, so people going to Wolf Creek or whatever, you know, coming back and forth from Pagosa to Durango, it’s going to be a good deal,” Goetz said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”


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