Words & Deeds

Smoky Davis on State Street to be demolished, relocated for intersection expansion

Longtime Boise business Smoky Davis has been at 3914 W. State St. since 1953.
Longtime Boise business Smoky Davis has been at 3914 W. State St. since 1953. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Smoky Davis has been a State Street fixture so long that it almost feels like time stood still — for 64 years.

“I think it kind of has,” co-owner Gary Davis, 60, agrees with a soft laugh.

Straight from the smokehouse, ribs, salami and pepperoni still make shoppers salivate. Seasonings and sauces line the top of a display case. A mural starring a turkey — first hung when Gary’s grandfather owned the store — proudly decorates the back wall.

But in a few months, Smoky Davis will be a memory at State and Arthur streets.

The building at 3914 W. State St. is slated to be demolished by the middle of next year. It’s a consequence of Ada County Highway District’s State Street/Veterans Memorial Parkway/36th Street intersection expansion.

“There’s extra vehicle lanes, bike lanes and pedestrian crossings,” says Craig Quintana, ACHD’s chief information officer. “All of that comes at a cost of more room.”

Smoky Davis will stay open until at least Dec. 31, selling its meats, cheeses and delicacies through the holiday season.

ACHD plans to start its expansion project in January.

Gary Davis and his wife, Dee, plan to reopen Smoky Davis elsewhere in Boise.

“We’re exploring all our options,” he says.

The Davises are still negotiating with ACHD about the property sale and business relocation.

“I’m bummed,” Davis admits. “Moving forward, we’ve just got to figure it out. But I’m not gonna scream and holler. It’s growth. So I just have to deal with it.”

Other State Street businesses will be affected. The Zen Bento building next door, built by Davis’ grandfather in 1963, will be demolished. The Davises also are negotiating with ACHD about that property, remembered by many Boiseans as Smoke Inn.

The Viking Drive-In down the street is safe, but its sign will be moved, Quintana says. Further east past Albertsons, the State Street Auto Body building will be razed, he adds.

Ada County is acquiring all or parts of 47 land parcels, he says. “Most of those are what we call strip takes,” Quintana says, “where we just need a little piece off, like the frontage of their property. If, ultimately, the acquisition is getting too close to the front door, which is the case in Smoky’s situation … then it becomes a buyout situation.”

State Street handles 40,000 vehicles each day, Quintana says, and Veterans Memorial Parkway sees 28,000. Those numbers are expected to rise to 47,000 and 39,000 by 2035.

Drivers in the area already are accustomed to long, packed lines of cars.

“We see the intersection failing at the a.m. and p.m. peak hours,” Quintana says. “People already complain about the existing congestion. If you hit it at the wrong time, you’re going to sit at the intersection for three light cycles before you can get through.”

In recent years, Gary Davis has noticed more traffic passing the landmark Smoky Davis sign. Boise’s growth has been a double-edged sword for Smoky Davis.

“It’s both good and bad,” he says. “I know the growth helps, obviously, all businesses. It helps us. It’s a major arterial into Downtown and west out.”

He sighs.

“I don’t know what to say.”

With luck, Smoky Davis might relocate to another location on State Street. “That would be a goal,” Davis says. “Obviously, we’re looking all over.”

For many Boiseans, its disappearance from the original location will feel almost unnatural.

Davis’ grandfather Del bought the building in 1953. His dad, Jerry, took over in 1970. Gary Davis grabbed the reins in 1995.

To this day, Gary and Dee custom smoke wild game and fish brought in by Idaho hunters and anglers. But November is when retail business cranks up. Customers want smoked turkeys and hams for holiday dinners. And classic Smoky Davis beef jerky for stocking stuffers. And gift baskets with eye of pork loin.

In December, Smoky Davis triples its regular business, Davis says.

“We’ll run 1,000 turkeys through there between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” he says.

This year might even be busier. Customers will need to make one final pass through the original store.

After packing up equipment in January, Davis will have one last job out front.

“I’m going to save the sign,” he says.

Unfortunately, it might not be relocated to Smoky Davis’ new spot. It’s too big to meet Boise city code requirements, he says, “unless we get some type of waiver or something from wherever we end up.”

If not?

“It might become a fixture at my house,” he says with a chuckle.

Online: smokydavis.com.

• • • 

Want more Idaho entertainment news? Follow Michael Deeds on Facebook and Twitter.