PARIS — On Dec. 22, 2013, Dave Nelson rolled his big-rig out into the woods after a flash freeze sent the tractor part of the truck around the corner — but not the trailer.

After this life-changing event, the Oxford resident knew something had to change.

He spent two months recovering from a broken back, hand and ribs, along with a ruptured spleen. The accident sent Dave and his wife, Marcia Nelson, on the path to opening Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ.

“At that point, we decided now is the time,” he said. The business plan was put into motion roughly 18 months ago, Dave added.

The restaurant, serving barbecue, steak and more, officially opened its doors on Thursday, Dec. 3, at the site of a former convenience store at 3 Nichol St. in Paris, on the corner of High Street.

“This is something she always wanted to do,” Dave said, motioning to Marcia from across one of the restaurant’s tables. “So here we are.”

The night before opening the restaurant, the couple was there with various family members, including their grandchildren, Rylee Young, 5, and Kailee Nelson, 6, who ran around “helping” get things ready for the big day.

Dave explained they didn’t have a brick-and-mortar business front until they signed the lease Oct. 5. They kicked off the new year by catering events with Dave’s barbecue, Marcia’s baked goods and other specialties. They spent the entire season at Oxford Plains Dragway, providing food for drivers and fans alike.

“We actually have a pretty good following,” Dave said.

Before the couple took their food to the public, they volunteered their friends and family to be their culinary guinea pigs.

“It just kind of worked together and we’d have people over to try stuff,” Marcia said. “We got a lot of feedback from friends and family. I’ve always enjoyed baking and trying new things.”

Dave said one of his most popular items is his “moink ball.”

“It’s (a) hamburger and ground sausage meatball, flavored and wrapped with bacon and smoked and sauced,” Dave said. “We make our own sauce. It’s pretty popular.”

They currently have two sauces and are considering adding a third. The rest of the menu consists of certified angus steaks and burgers, pulled pork, fried haddock, sides, vegetarian items, such as the black bean burger and salads, and a gluten-free roll option.

“It is kind of evolving as we go,” Dave said, laughing. “About a week ago, we didn’t have a menu nailed down.” 

And this doesn’t begin to cover Marcia’s baked goods. She will have breads, pies and other items available.

“She’s a pretty incredible baker,” Dave said about his wife.

In addition to the restaurant, there will be take-out and items available in bulk. The couple is in the process of obtaining a license to serve beer and wine. For now, the restaurant’s hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Sunday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

They said they will add to the menu and there will be quick lunch items available for take-out, along with weekly specials.

“This week’s special is going to be, ‘We’re open,’” Dave said.

For more information, visit Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Smokin-Daves-BBQ-276337615861624/.  

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