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Southern Pacific Opens w/2,000 lb. Smoker, Live Music

The country music artist that famously covered "Feel Like Makin' Love" in 1975, Philip Claypool opened a restaurant in Novato yesterday: Southern Pacific Smokehouse. So Sammy Hagar isn't the only rocker around here with an eye for business and a good slab of meat. Smokehouse co-owner and former PlumpJack CEO Rick Riess has also been known to break out the guitar from time to time. It's only natural their new 9100 square-foot restaurant and music venue will serve up live tunes five nights a week and Southern-style cooking "with a California edge" nightly. Anti-climactically, it's in the Vintage Oaks Shopping Center, 25 miles north of San Francisco. But the rest sounds good. There's a 70-seat outdoor patio, 110-seat music lounge, dramatic bar and chef Ryan Barnett (formerly of Hotel Rex) has dialed in this two-page menu of hearty-looking starters, main courses like a Santa Maria tri-tip, wood-fired pizzas and other items like dry rub baby back ribs straight from the 2,000 lb. Old Hickory smoker. The beverage program echoes this strong Southern bent with an extensive and varied whiskey supply, a custom-blended proprietary Evan Williams bourbon and a list of classic cocktails including mint juleps and such. The modern roadhouse design was conceived by partner Carrie Channell. Charlie Trotter alum Nick Rimedio has been recruited as GM. And if you're interested in seeing snaps taken during the past months' buildout, their Facebook page has got that covered. Website goes live Wednesday. Now do let us know what you think of this joint when you visit.