Once the hot spot for tacos in Guam’s Tumon Bay area, Kailee Smoke and Grill has taken over the now closed Margarita’s restaurant. Kailee Smoke and Grill, which opened in July, is seeking to be a place for local comfort eating.
The owner, Denis Regnier, decided to open the restaurant after dining at a steakhouse by himself on Guam, said Kailee’s chef Richard Schaaf. “It cost $80. Denis thought it was ridiculous. He wondered where can people eat quality food, especially those with a family. So, we put this place together. We’re 100 percent geared toward the local people. When people eat here, they experience our large portions. It’s all made for, priced for and portioned for the people of Guam.”
Regnier named the restaurant after his granddaughter Kailee who lives in the states. Although Schaaf isn’t native to Guam, he has spent over 20 years working in the island’s service industry, where he became familiar with local taste. “I came to Guam through the military and when I got out in ’96, I stayed. I learned to cook all over Guam. All my schooling is on the job training at different hotels and different restaurants,” he said.
While Kailee doesn’t specialize in zesty cheeses or sweet salsas, its main appetizers are Mexican inspired, which is perfect for those longing for the former Margarita’s. “Our two popular items are pulled pork nachos and our jalapeño poppers. They’re enough for three people,” said Schaaf. “I made the whole menu.”
Kailee’s signature dishes are tomahawk and mackerel. “All our sauces are inhouse made and we have sauces you won’t see anywhere else on Guam,” Schaaf said. The selection includes Dr. Pepper Sauce, strawberry habanero, Jack Daniels-flavored sauce, spicy mango sauce and teriyaki sauce.
Schaff is most proud of Kailee’s barbeque, with the smoky flavor seeped to the bone. “My personal favorite is the smoked ribs and the brisket is phenomenal. It’s a 10-hour smoke. We start the smoker up every morning at 8 a.m. or sometimes even 7 a.m. and we smoke it until 8 or 10 at night. We do it every day, seven days a week.”
Because of the slow cooking in the outdoor grill, the meat feels rustic and homey.
It’s not only their original sauces and smoked grill that brings the menu to life. Schaaf uses Guam products to create Guam flavors. “We get all our ingredients from local vendors. Triple J is a big sponsor for Kailee Smoke and Grill. All of our meats are certified angus beef from Triple J. We buy quality meat in order to create a quality product. We also try to support local farmers. We get our produce from Guam’s farmers, as much as we can. The whole restaurant is geared toward the island, so we help support it every way we can.”
Schaaf is excited to create new tastes and memories for the people of Guam. “We do have a couple of surprises coming up. We’re soon going to offer brisket and rib trays to go,” he said.
While to-go trays are available, the chef still encourages diners to come in and experience the restaurant. “This is a family place. People can come here and not pay $100 for their dinner,” Shaaf said.
Schaaf is grateful for being a part of Kailee’s team and for bringing joy through food. “It takes a good team to put this together. It’s not a one-man show; it’s everyone who works here. My sous-chef Ron Fernandez is a great help. This crew is topnotch.”