The Cook Shack on 7th prepares to open new addition

Philip A. Janquart
 Fridays at the Cook Shack on 7th are all about the smoked prime rib.
 Don’t forget it because people who have tried it, swear by it and you will too. Then again, every night has a different smoked meat special that will leave you satisfied.
 It’s all part of an overall recipe for success that has withstood even the challenges of COVID, a time when owners Deb and John Newberry had to switch to take-out only, and are still looking for enough employees to return to a full schedule.
 Despite the setbacks, the Cook Shack has pressed forward, anticipating the opening of an addition to their restaurant, which is scheduled for completion no later than Sept. 16 when they host the Weiser High School class of ’73 reunion.
 “It’s the first event we have planned for this room,” explained Deb from inside the addition on the northwest part of the rustic, cabin-style building at 1095 W. 7th St. in Weiser.
 On Saturday, she and John were busy painting walls and will soon be installing flooring.
 “They are having their 50th class reunion here,” she said. “We booked it back in the first part of March and we said, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll have it done by then!” Hahaha! Well, you know how it goes, but it will be done, just barely, I think.”
 While many businesses had to shut their doors, the Cook Shack has persisted and is moving up in the world. 
 Success is due, in large part, to the quality of the items on their menu, which was put together with thought and discernment, and a lot of practice.
 Deb, who grew up in the Seattle area, has been involved in the restaurant and hotel/resort industry for over 42 years. She worked at Homestead Café on State Street when it was still Pat’s Café. It had always been her dream to have her very own restaurant and after 18 years at Homestead decided to found Waffleberry’s, which was located on State Street across from Bo’s Barn. 
 John, a four million-mile professional truck driving veteran, put a hold on his career after 25 years to help out.
 They bought the building on Seventh Street about a year later and renamed it the Cook Shack, opening on Oct. 1, 2019. 
 Part of the inspiration for the name change came from John’s dabbling’s in smoking meat.
 “A friend of mine brought this smoker in and we just started playing around with it and that’s how I got into it,” he said. “We drug it home and hooked it up, went on YouTube and looked at some things, read some books, and practiced.”
 The Cook Shack is now widely known for its brisket, prime rib, and other smoked dishes. It also has a reputation for the tastiest burgers in town, especially the Shack Stack Burger made with house smoked brisket and homemade pickled onions stacked on a burger.
 “We do a lot of catering gigs, and they all want the brisket, but we sell a ton of burgers,” Deb beamed. “We bring in really good hamburger; we don’t use frozen ones, and they are bigger, a little over a third of a pound.”
 If you want something mind-blowing, John said, try the pork chops, which are bought at Gilmore’s Meats, located kitty-corner from the Cook Shack on Seventh and Pioneer.
 “Most nights, we sell out of whatever smoked meat we have on special for the day, but the pork chops are really becoming popular,” he said.
 The Cook Shack is also known for its fresh salmon, which it buys from Fairweather Fish, Co., a husband and wife seafood “slaying” team that freezes its seafood at sea.
 “They do a lot of different seafood, but we get the salmon; we bring it in frozen, but when we thaw it, it’s just like fresh,” said Deb who is used to “good” seafood, having lived near Seattle. “It comes right off the hook. When I moved to Idaho almost 30 years ago, I was a little disappointed about the salmon.”
 Since opening, the Newberrys have improved the building in phases, moving walls, enlarging the kitchen, installing a new walk-in refrigerator and walk-in freezer, improving public restroom facilities, and building the smokehouse, which has become a crucial element to the business.
 “There has been a progression of different things,” Deb said. “We knew we would eventually need additional seating because that dining room is tiny.”
 The addition has taken away some parking, but Deb and John found a solution, leasing a vacant lot across the street for additional spaces.
 Deb said that despite the restaurant’s success, some days can be challenging, just like it is for all small business owners.
 “Sometimes you want to give up, and then someone will come in and say that your food is so good and that they love the way they are treated when they come here,” she said, choking up a little. “It gives you that boost and you think, ‘Ok, I can make it another day.’ I love providing this community with a quality product and quality service.”
 “People in this community have really supported us,” John said. “I built this addition with voluntary help. We paid them with what I call ‘Moobucks’ because most of what we do is beef. You come work for me, and I’ll feed you. People volunteered to help me build the smokehouse, too. I could have done this myself, but it would have taken me a year. Instead, it took four months.”
 To learn more about the Cook Shack, including catering information, hours, and full menu, visit or call (208) 549-1149. You can also visit their Facebook page and find them on Instagram.


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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