When Ethan and Kerri Smith decided to offer food at the Alibi Pub, instead of typical bar fare — freezer to deep fryer — they decided to go a different route — farm to table.
“I wanted to get into food a long time ago,” Ethan Smith said. “We wanted something unusual to Laramie.”
Following in his family’s footsteps, Ethan Smith bought the Alibi Pub, 404 S. Fourth St., in 1990, but after meeting his wife 15 years later, the couple decided to fire up the business by adding a pizzeria and bakery. However, conventional ovens didn’t appeal to them.
“Instead of a grill, we wanted to keep it the way it was,” Ethan Smith said.
Starting first with one wood fire oven and adding a second later, the couple settled on their new and improved pub experience — Alibi Pub: Wood Fire Pizzaria & Bakery.
“Pizzaria is spelled wrong for a reason,” Kerri Smith said.
In a push to get people talking about the re-invented establishment, Ethan Smith said they decided to spell pizzeria with an “a” instead of the traditional Italian spelling, which uses an “e.”
Even with the wood fire oven, the couple wanted to offer their patrons as natural a meal as possible.
Instead of making the pizza crust with commercial yeast, they decided to use sourdough, a leaven for making dough popularized during the gold rushes of the mid-nineteenth century in Ethan Smith’s home state — California.
“There’s a little group of people trying to produce a better product in Laramie,” Kerri Smith said.
“We wanted to be a part of that.”
Inspired by local businesses such as Bright Agrotech and Big Hollow Food Co-Op, she said many of the ingredients used in the pizza, pastries and bread are produced locally. For hard-to-find items, the couple said they look for holistic options nearby.
“All the flour is organic and grown in Utah,” Kerri Smith said.
They use oak wood in the stoves, and because it is hard to come by in Wyoming, Ethan Smith said he buys it in Texas.
“We go to farmers’ markets for ingredients in the summer,” Kerri Smith said. “And we have an open kitchen so people can see we’re making everything on the spot, not just warming it up.”
The cooking process is lengthy and involved. The couple said they often arrive at 4:30 a.m. to start the ovens. Before they bake the sourdough, Ethan Smith said it rests for 36 hours.
When the baking finally begins, the wood fire ovens present challenges of their own.
“Baking is one thing,” Ethan Smith said. “But baking at 7,200 feet is another.”
Without California’s heat and humidity, he said learning to make and bake the sourdough took years of trial and error.
After they got the recipe down pat, they decided to go mobile and started catering about two years ago, Ethan Smith said.
When catering, they keep with their fresh food mantra and shy away from reheating food made previously by bringing the ovens with them.
“It’s basically taking our kitchen on wheels,” Kerri Smith said.
For some, the idea of creating a health-foods environment inside a bar might seem contradictory, but the Smiths said they want to change that.
“We’re creating an environment where it’s healthy to have a drink and a bite to eat,” Kerri Smith said. “We’re creating a social environment.”
To keep their offerings natural, Ethan Smith said the bar uses fresh fruit in all the drinks.
“We’ve paired our food with our drinks,” Ethan Smith said. “We’re doing a lot of fresh.”
The Alibi Pub: Wood Fire Pizzaria & Bakery’s bar is open 10:30 a.m.-midnight Sundays-Wednesdays and 10:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. The kitchen is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Tuesdays and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays. The Smiths serve brunch at 9 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.