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Clothes Complete The 'Cue 

I admire the cool fire-licked logo as I pick up a business card at Smokejack, a gussied-up blues and barbecue joint in downtown Alpharetta. Turns out I can purchase a T-shirt or baseball cap emblazoned with the logo: In addition to the salty, addictive fried pickles, Smokejack, like so many eateries, has nonfood stuff for sale. Dave "Flip" Filipowicz, Smokejack's proprietor and general manager, talks about the art and business of selling logo-clad merchandise.

Creative Loafing: Your clothing case is pretty unobtrusive.

Filipowicz: Yeah, it's subtle. Our staff wears the T-shirts and we advertise that it's for sale on our menu.

Why'd you decide to sell apparel? Some might say that's rather chain restaurant-like.

This is really about word of mouth advertising. I think there are things to be learned from corporate restaurants and things to be learned from chef-driven restaurants. I'm trying to have a balance. That, and provide for my kids' education and future.

So who buys logo stuff?

Most are just people in love with our concept. They want to support us. And they like the logo. Or they had a good time and they want to remember it. Like the other day, six gals were here and they bought six T-shirts for their hubbies. It's like, "Here's where we ate." And they were from out of state, which is pretty cool. I've also got local guys who buy a shirt because they think we're good for the community. We get a lot of that. You can't ask for anything better.

Will you be adding take-home food items in the future?

Oh yeah, sure. This fall we'll have chow chow, pickles and barbecue sauce.

And we'll have sweatshirts for our chili cook-offs and T-shirts at Taste of Alpharetta. And coozies are big. We'll also be adding merchandise to our website. This is only our first quarter of business. We'll be turning it up.

Why do you think folks will pay to advertise your joint?

It's a whole way of life; Americans have been doing this for years. We buy Hard Rock T-shirts and shirts with Ralph Lauren's logo on them. I'm into trademarking everything. I've even thought about tattooing my bald head.

Smokejack BBQ, 29 S. Main St., Alpharetta. 770-410-7611. www.smokejackbbq.com.

chefstable@creativeloafing.com

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