The name is Ed’s Smokehouse, but Liz Hampton, Ed’s older sister, is running the show these days.
“It’s the same thing, same menu, cooked the same way—nothing’s changed,” Hampton said about the restaurant that’s been in business six years at 1009 McKinley Avenue NW in Canton.
“We call it barbecue, soul food. It’s American-style cooking, basically,” Hampton said. “We cook anything. We might have lasagna or taco salad.”
Q. Years ago, your dad had an Ed’s Smokehouse in the food court at Canton Centre Mall, correct?
A. “He did. We kept the name in his honor. I also have two brothers named Ed. Eddie Jr. is the griller here. My son R.J. grills, too.”
Q. Are most of your customers from the neighborhood?
A. “We get people from all around. We get the neighborhood people a lot, a lot of people from Akron, people from New Philly come here, people from Cleveland even come. Most of the time, they say they look for soul food online and they find us.”
Q. How’s business these days?
A. “It’s always iffy toward the end of the month. The first week of the month is always slamming.”
Q. I’ve heard you’ve got delicious egg rolls at Ed’s. What are those?
A. “You know how the Chinese do the egg rolls? Mine are soul rolls, stuffed with chicken, greens, roasted corn, black beans, green onions; I have a pico de gallo that I make myself, add cheese, and everybody loves ‘em. My sauce has chipotle in it. They’re deep-fried, bigger than egg rolls—two for $5. You really can only eat one.”
Q. Do you sell a lot of sandwiches?
A. “Our Reuben sandwich is a big seller—my dad’s recipe. We don’t use Thousand Island; we use French dressing. We have a Polish Boy sandwich that originated in Cleveland; it’s beef Polish sausage. My dad’s version is the Eddie Boy, but it is whiting fish, (topped) with fries, coleslaw, barbecue sauce and cheese. My son, Orlando, came up with a sandwich called the Orlando. A Philly is usually steak or chicken, but we put it together with onions, mushrooms, mayo, banana peppers and Swiss cheese. We sell a lot of those.”
Q. What about traditional barbecue?
A. “We have barbecue chicken that we grill, barbecue ribs, rib tips at times, we do pulled pork. We have fish, whiting, tilapia and catfish that’s deep-fried in corn meal. There’s a customer I cook ox tails for every Saturday. I don’t know why but he loves them. Those are not cheap.”
Q. How about side dishes?
A. “We have collard greens, a cabbage and collard mix, green beans, baked beans, mac ‘n’ cheese, candied yams, cornbread dressing, potato salad. Everything here is homemade. On Fridays only, we sell chitlins, and the phone rings off the hook for them. My mom does them; I won’t. We have them from October to May. When it gets hot, she stops. White people eat them a lot. I was like shocked. I won’t eat ‘em.”
Q. And you’ve got sweet treats for dessert?
A. “Oh yes, we do. Banana split pie is one of the favorite deserts around here; it’s my recipe. I also make strawberry shortcake cheesecake crunch. And I can’t forget my mom’s peach cobbler. My brother makes the best pound cake, and there’s sweet potato pie and banana pudding.”
Q. It sounds like a lot of work, Liz.
A. “It’s hard, and it’s basically me. I have to do a lot of hands-on shopping because I don’t have a food distributor that has everything we need. I go shopping to Akron then North Canton and then down here.”