Matt Davis is a nerd about wood. He studied lumber science in college. His grandfather was a carpenter and built wood furniture, his father sold wood furniture in Davis’s home state of Kansas. On the walls at Davis’ restaurant, Wood Shop BBQ, scientifically accurate paintings of different trees used for smoking meat cover the back wall that leads down a hallway to the restaurant’s giant smoker, Big Willie.

“We named him that because he smokes a lot and is the salt of the Earth,” Davis said.

Davis brought his love of wood into his barbecue craft, which he could talk about for hours if you let him.

“We bring in post oak and hickory from the Midwest,” said Davis, while describing in detail how the wood he chooses affects the flavor of his recipes. “My primary with Wood Shop to make the flavor that reminds me of my family is hickory. But hickory is being cut down a little too fresh these days; they aren’t cutting down a lot of dead trees, so it’s not very seasoned, so it can be super, super slow to cook. So we started cutting post oak because it’s drier, so we can run a smaller, hotter fire. We run 2:1 oak to hickory.”

Davis is bringing his passion for wood and good barbecue to Magnolia when he and his partner James Barrington open their new restaurant Oaky’s, which will feature Tex-Mex recipes and slow-cooked barbecue.

Davis and Barrington met through their wives back in the early 2000s and quickly became friends bonded by good food.

“(Barrington’s) view on barbecue is Texas,” Davis said. “When our wives pushed us together, we bonded and created a bromance. Soon we were eating barbecue, drinking Rainier and burning Christmas trees, and then we came up with Wood Shop.”

Barrington started working the food truck route in 2013 and sold falafel in Georgetown. Davis decided he wanted to be a part of the fun, and in 2014 they opened a food truck that focused on barbecue.

“We got our first spot in Greenwood and then Fremont,” Davis said. “By 2015, we were running the speed gauntlet on food trucks. About two years ago we opened Wood Shop, on Jan. 20 (2016).”

Wood Shop BBQ is located at 2513 S. Jackson St. in the Central District. Davis and Barrington like to choose smaller locations near neighborhoods, because they want to become part of a community.

“We like regulars,” Davis said. “For me, barbecue has always been about community. I’m from Kansas originally, and (Barrington’s) whole family is from out of Texas. So we were sort of longing for that comfort good barbecue brings. We find that a lot of customers who are religious loyalist to us are from the Midwest, are from the South.”

The inspiration for Oaky’s in Magnolia came from a trip to Texas Davis and Barrington took with their wives over a year ago.

“They like to go and get their nails done and see the sights,” Davis said, “while the two of us just go on a barbecue run for the entire trip.”

Davis and Barrington ate at a restaurant called Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ just south of Austin, Texas, and during their meal felt the need to recreate the same type of recipes in Seattle.

“(Modesty Vidal) and her husband Miguel has a more south-of-the-border flavor,” Davis said. “It was an interesting sliver where I was like, ‘Oh man, we can do this!’”

At Oaky’s, Davis and Barrington are going to strive for food that is “better than it needs to be.”

“I get disillusioned by high-end dining restaurants where I get okay food,” Davis said. “It’s like, it’s expensive and the cocktails are expensive, and it’s good, but it’s not blow-your-mind good. I want to focus on insanely good holes-in-the-walls.”

Davis said what makes their food better than it needs to be is their ability to consistently create the same award-winning flavor and taste every day through slowly smoked recipes.

The pair plans to bring a bit more spice at Oaky’s. Items on the menu will include barbecue pork, beef and chicken, along with chips and homemade smoked salsa, barbacoa tacos, and vegetarian options that includes jackfruit barbecue. The highlight will be Bob Armstrong Queso, which includes guacamole, sour cream, pico-de-gallo and a choice of meet inside the queso.

The beef comes from Painted Hills Natural Beef in Oregon, and the pork comes from Seaboard Foods LP.

Oaky’s Tex Mex will open adjacent to Batch 206 Distilleries on Elliott Avenue in Interbay. The name Oaky’s is a play on words for Davis.

“My grandpa’s nickname was Arky, because my family is from Arkansas,” Davis said. “It got me thinking, I love that kind of name. Over there we are only going to smoke with post oak. And my parents’ furniture store was called Forever Oak. We used to joke that I got put through college on oak. So it felt just kind of perfect. It represents where we came from and what we are doing now.”

The last step in moving in will be to bring in another smoker. The new smoker will not be as large as Big Willy, so Davis and Barrington dubbed her Lady Bird.

The grand opening is planned for the weekend of Jan. 11 at 1417 Elliot Ave. W.