Smokin Fins, a restaurant that offers seafood, sushi and smoked specialty meat, is now open in downtown Idaho Falls.

Located on Memorial Drive, the restaurant opened Monday after a few years of planning and development.

The new building is owned by the Boise-based Oppenheimer Development Corporation, which also owns the building on the corner of Broadway and Memorial Drive. The development is on the site of the former Saving Center, a grocery store that operated from the mid-1940s until 2008.

The two buildings and courtyard that separates them is being developed by Oppenheimer in partnership with the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency. Smokin Fins is on the ground floor and Bank of Idaho and law offices will be on the upper floors.

Smokin Fins is operated by Fins Concepts, a Boise-based company with restaurant locations in Idaho, Colorado and Arizona. Smokin Fins is one of three different restaurants under the Fins Concepts umbrella (Lucky Fins and Naked Fins are the others) but Smokin Fins is unique because it serves smoked meat specialties rather than just seafood.

Nate Ingersoll, Fins Concepts’ regional manager for Idaho and Arizona, said the company, which opened its first restaurant in 2011, started testing with a smoker to broaden customers’ options beyond seafood.

The company created the Smokin Fins brand to offer two, distinct menus.

“We had a great following with Lucky Fins and we didn’t want to confuse the guests,” Ingersoll said.

The Idaho Falls location is the first Smokin Fins in the state, however, there are Lucky Fins in Boise and Meridian and a Naked Fins in Boise.

The Smokin Fins menu is a blend of surf and turf, including sushi, tacos, hamburgers and smoked rib-eye, among many other combinations. Ingersoll said all of the Fins Concepts menus are fluid and driven by guest feedback.

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” he said. “Our menu is all over the place.”

There also is a full bar that serves beer (eight on tap), wine and liquor.

The restaurant’s interior is sleek and modern, yet homey, complete with vintage hanging lights and dark wood paneling along the walls.

Ingersoll said both the menu and the interior design were in response to Idaho Falls residents’ desires for something that’s new and diverse.

The roughly 5,000-square-foot restaurant has a private dining area for large parties and soon will have a patio overlooking a square, which will feature a fountain between the two new buildings on Memorial Drive and views of the Snake River.

Community support of downtown rejuvenation and collaboration between the city and private developers sparked Fins Concepts’ interest in the location, Ingersoll said.

“We really like the community,” he said. “It’s been a really cool project and something we’re happy to be a part of.”

The new restaurant hired 65 new employees, including two local managers and a general manager from the Smokin Fins Fort Collins, Colo., location.

The restaurant hosted a friends-and-family dinner Friday, which was free (besides alcohol). New employees’ friends and family, contractors who worked on the project and community members were invited to try the restaurant. And service staff were tested before Monday’s official opening.

Catherine Smith, executive director of the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation, attended the friends and family meal.

Smith said she appreciated both the food and the ambiance. And she said Smokin Fins is appropriate for diners from those attending a symphony or an Arts Council event to casual diners after work.

“It’s a unique restaurant to Idaho Falls that is going to offer some new dishes and pretty fantastic cocktails,” she said. “I think it’s a good mix between fancy and casual dining.”

Smith recommends the lobster stuffed avocado appetizer to any future customers.

Smokin Fins is located at 370 Memorial Dr. and is open Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Reporter Ryan Suppe can be reached at 208-542-6762. Follow him on Twitter: @salsuppe.

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