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The doors have opened at Chelsea’s Smokehouse 52, but not before a special blessing

Phil and Jennifer Tolliver and Father Bill Turner pose for a photo inside Smokehouse 52 Wednesday afternoon in front of an old barn door following a blessing of the new restaurant.

After a couple of dry runs for family and friends and VIP’s earlier in the week, Smokehouse 52 officially opened its doors Wednesday

Father Bill Turner and the Holy Water inside Smokehouse 52.

afternoon after a special blessing.

Father Bill Turner of St. Mary Catholic Church was in the house at 3:30 p.m. to say a prayer and sprinkle each room with Holy Water before the official opening of the long-awaited BBQ restaurant at the corner of M-52 and Park Street.

And this isn’t the first new business blessing that Turner has been a part of in the area. He said he’d blessed “various other new businesses” in the area.

Regardless of your faith or religion, “without a higher power, we wouldn’t be here,” Phil Tolliver, the restaurant’s owner, told his staff before the official prayer and blessing. He said he wanted the new restaurant – his life’s dream – to open its doors on the right foot and the right way.

Antlers above the bar.

Turner asked God to bless the restaurant and the work that’s done in it and to make it a success.

He prayed that everyone who came inside would feel welcomed, well fed, and hopeful.

He asked that everyone working in the restaurant be safe and that they care for others (even those who might be grumpy).

“We ask for many tips,” he said, which brought out lots of laughter from the staff and “Much success for this new business.”

“We ask for God’s safety and presence here with this new venture and that there be many customers,” he said.

Following the prayer, he walked through the entire restaurant and sprinkled Holy Water in each room.

Tolliver said that the restaurant would be open for lunch beginning at about 11 a.m. and stay open until 9 or 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Early bird customers look over the menu.

There’s seating for 174 people and a staff of 47 people.

Monday night, he invited friends and family for their first taste of the menu, which includes “real pit smoked BBQ and authentic sides” like pit beans, house slaw, cornbread pudding, and there’s even gluten-free rubs and sauces.

“It just worked out that way,” he said, after tinkering with his recipes.

Prices ranges from $11 to $13 for a BBQ plate and $8 for a “heaping helping of pulled pork,” sandwich, he said.

And, there are also other non-BBQ items on the menu as well.

Tolliver said he hopes that his bar will soon be serving alcohol, but he’s waiting on his liquor license, and eventually, there will also be take-out available, he said.

Already, Tolliver has shown his passion for being a part of the Chelsea community. During the VIP night on Tuesday, the food was free but he asked for voluntary donations and $1,200 was raised and donated to Faith in Action.

“This is more than a business, we’re part of the community,” he said. “We want to grow with the community.”

Staff assembled for a blessing of the new restaurant before its doors opened Wednesday afternoon.
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