Growing up in Texas, Thomas Tyler found that barbecue was a way of life.
The owner of Smokey Jalapeño in Lewisville said he spent years learning his way around the pit so he could perfect brisket, ribs and other meats.
And when the opportunity came for him to look at ways to add more revenue, Tyler said he decided to turn his passion into a restaurant.
“I am a full-time airline pilot,” he said. “When I opened 3 1/2 years ago, I was looking for another means of cash flow for my future retirement and my kids’ college [tuition].”
With the help of his wife, he took his idea of a barbecue restaurant and transformed it to a spot that offers a combination of foods from different cultures.
“My wife is Asian, so she threw a few things on the menu,” he said. “One of her things is our Texas Stars, and it’s a crab cheese wonton with brisket instead of crab.”
The menu also has a large selection of Tex-Mex items.
“In the restaurant business you want to utilize your ingredients as much as you can and add as many options as possible without the extra cost,” Tyler said. “So we said, ‘Hey why not take that same delicious smoked meat and make tacos, quesadillas and burritos with it so you can have a brisket taco or a pulled pork quesadilla.”’
Tyler said the restaurant’s name is a play off of the menu’s fusion of barbecue and Tex-Mex.
“I went through about seven names before we decided,” he said. “‘Smokey’ is the traditional barbecue side, and the ‘Jalapeño’ is the Tex-Mex side.”
Besides its unique menu, the restaurant stands apart from others because Tyler smokes only with pecan wood, he said.
Whether customers are eating the smoked hamburger or the smoky brisket cheddar melt, Tyler said he wants his customers to feel like their money was well-spent.
“There’s a lot of struggles with owning your own business, but what makes me happy is if somebody comes in and they order and sit down and eat, and when I go back to talk to them, you know by the look on their face that they are happy,” he said.