Baja Papas East Cape Smokehouse
The History of the East Cape Smokehouse

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The East Cape Smoke House came into existence in January of 1996, when Clarence Moyers, a wayward criminal defense attorney from Texas, arrived in the small dusty Baja town of Los Barriles. At the time, Clarence was driven by what some observers noted was nothing more than a pipe dream, that is, to leave it all behind to the north, find a place on the beach somewhere on the Baja, and figure out how to make just enough money to be able to stay awhile.

Perhaps it’s necessary to back up a bit in order to do this story any justice. First, it’s important to note that prior to his arrival in Los Barriles, Clarence had traveled the world performing extensive, if not exhaustive, studies on the ancient phenomena known as fishing. Through his studies and explorations, Clarence came to realize that fishing was pretty cool and that he wanted to do more of it if he possibly could. He also realized that practicing criminal law in Texas was not all that cool and that he wanted to do less of that if he possibly could, preferably none.

It is also important to note that sometime much prior to his arrival in the small dusty town of Los Barriles, Clarence’s son Chris had given him a very important gift, one that would soon provide the impetus for Clarence’s journey south. The gift . . . . a small home smoker, you know, the $60 model from Costco. Anyway, Clarence became quite proficient with that little piece of crap smoker, so much so that he began to engage in delusions of grandeur, thinking that he may actually have a future in this sort of thing. Thus, the pipe dream was born.

Soon, Clarence began having trouble concentrating. He was having difficulty performing even the most menial tasks, like tying his tie, tucking in his shirt, brushing his teeth, remembering to bring along his briefcase to court appearances, etc. He has since been diagnosed with having been afflicted with fishing on the brain. It was in this disheveled state that Clarence made the fateful decision to shut down his law practice and move to Baja and open up a smoke house. His closest amigos thought he was freaking crazy! As it turns out, they were right, he was and is crazy . . . . like a fox.

Anyway, Clarence arrived in Los Barriles armed with little more than his pipe dream, a used CHU-350 Enviro-Pak smoker, a used 6’x9’ walk-in cooler, a little single unit vac-sealer (with the stunning capability to seal one package of fish at a time, and up to two per minute if manned by only the most skilled employees), and a 6’ stainless steel table. Clearly, a star was born.

Clarence rented a locale at the now famous Plaza Del Pueblo and opened up shop. Never mind that Clarence didn’t know how to smoke in his new oven. It’s little details like that, which have never failed to deter Clarence, and which make him something of a Don Quixote of fish smoking. Viewing his own ignorance as nothing more than a slight inconvenience, Clarence promptly informed the locals that he would smoke their fish for free, in return for them “lending” him their fish for him to practice with. To this day, Clarence proudly proclaims, and the locals concur, that he “ruined more than a roomful of fish learning how to use that smoker.” Not to be deterred, Clarence worked tirelessly, perfecting his brining, drying, and cooking techniques. Many countless hours were spent over cold beer and warm tequila as Clarence painstakingly developed a science and perfected an art. Thankfully, the fish wasn’t bad either.
Later on that semester, into the shop walked “Pizza Dave” Manuel. Dave had recently relieved himself of his duties at the local pizzeria, Mananas. Dave needed a job and Clarence, by then known as “Smoker Charlie,” needed some help. This, amigos, was a most fortuitous event in the history of the East Cape Smokehouse. Quickly, it became evident that another star had been born and Dave Manuel was soon known simply as . . . . “Smokey Dave.”

Smokey Dave immediately made his superstar qualities evident, hiring and firing, smoking and joking, drinking and stinking his way to East Cape stardom. Smokey, whose penchant for taking on businesses in distress and turning them into profitable, successful endeavors, quickly fell by the wayside. Smokey Dave had met his match in the East Cape Smokehouse. Nevertheless the two amigos, somewhat of an odd couple in their own right, Clarence with his enviable ability to always look at the bright side of matters, even where failure and the threat of bankruptcy loomed at every turn, and Smokey Dave, with his constant striving for perfection, made a valiant go of it. Together, they slowly transformed the East Cape Smokehouse into a veritable force in the Baja fishing industry. They commissioned the construction of a website, complete with a fishing report which was dedicated to providing anglers with the most comprehensive, up to date, information known to man and fish. People began to stand up and take notice of these two fellows, mocking turned to admiration, disgust turned to tolerance, insult turned to acceptance. It was truly a beautiful sight to behold. The rest is history you might say, but alas, there was still to be another twist to the story.

A few years later, growing weary of the everyday grind of doing business in Mexico, of hearing the endless fish fables of drunk anglers anxious to have anyone listen to their blabbering exclamations of the one that got away, of missing out on all the good parties because they were stuck in the smoke house making sure the fish got processed, and thus, never getting ANY, the two improbable amigos wondered aloud with sly smiles, whether it was time to ride off into the Baja sunset. Enter Chris Moyers, son of Smoker Charlie, and destined to become the premier provider of smoked seafood products on the face of the earth!

Chris, a marginally successful criminal defense attorney and partner in a law firm in San Diego, caught wind of the farcical rumblings down south, and soon made preparations to attain his rightful destiny, prepared to do so by force, if necessary. Chris soon followed in his father’s footsteps and quit the practice of law and moved to Baja in order to take over the East Cape Smokehouse. What a dumbass! Of course, Chris prefers the term naïve. The move enabled Smoker Charlie, who by then had legally changed his name to “Stoker,” and Smokey Dave to spend some quality time fishing, drinking beer, and chasing women, while Chris got to work his ass off! Chris thinks they’re bastards in the truest sense of the word.

Making the most of a crappy situation, Chris, like his father before him, born with the ability to look at the bright side of things (dumbass!!), decided to kick this thing in the ass and take it to another level. Getting the last laugh, Chris engineered the move of the operation to the current locale, the previous site of Mananas. Hah! In his first year, Chris quadrupled the output capability of the operation and began providing service to Rancho Leonero, Spa Buena Vista, Rancho Buena Vista, Hotel Los Barriles, Martin Verdugos, and yes, Punta Colorada. Chris, by then known affectionately in most circles as “Smokedogg”, a.k.a. Smokedoggydogg, was clearly on his way to superstardom.

In his second year, Smokedogg came up with yet another ingenious idea, his greatest to date. Smokedogg decided that it would be neat if he could open up a shop in Los Cabos (what a dumbass!!!), in order to service those poor anglers who had to put up with maggot ridden smoked fish offered by some loser in Cabo who doesn’t care about customer satisfaction. It was decide that a location near the airport would serve Los Cabos clients the best. Thus the “Airport Depot” was born. It was a great idea in theory but in practice problems became apparent almost immediately. First, the maggot farmer in Cabo was a less than welcoming host when Smokedogg arrived on the docks in Cabo, ready to claim his rightful destiny as the premier processor of smoked seafood products in southern Baja (including Cabo). Numerous threats were endured by Smokedogg in those early days, including but not limited to, threats to be banned from the country due to immigration restrictions, to threats of bodily harm, the latter being Smokedogg’s main concern. Another problem which became apparent was the fact that the “Airport Depot” was too far from the docks in Cabo, Playita, and Palmilla.

Being ever the optimist but readily admitting that he could at times be somewhat of a dumbass, Smokedogg decided that it would make more sense to move the airport location down to the marina in Cabo, than it would to cede to the demands of the maggot farmer and hightail it out of town. As such, it was done and Smokedogg opened up our beautiful Cabo Marina location. The fact that said location is slightly bigger than an average walk-in closet was neither a deterrent, nor a motivating factor in Smokedogg’s quest to expand his ever-expanding fish processing empire.

In the beginning, times were tough as the maggot farmer, by then evidencing his truly evil nature, had begun mounting a somewhat successful anti-gringo campaign among the various charter fleets. The funds were tight and Smokedogg actually considered on numerous occasions to pull the plug and go belly up in Cabo. Slowly but surely however, the charter captains began to realize that our products and services were far and away superior to those of the evil maggot farmer. Better still, our smoked fish was actually edible as opposed to something not even their gatos (cats) could stomach.

As of the date of the launch of the new website at the Cabo Marina location is thriving! The evil maggot farmer is out of the fish processing business! The last we heard, he was selling timeshares to gringos at one of the local resorts . . . . beware of a big ol’ dumb lookin dude named Gustavo that’s selling timeshares. Anyhow, it’s simply proof positive that good always triumphs over evil, amigos. That, and the fact that good tasting fish triumphs over bad tasting fish any day. It remains to be seen whether the expansion of the ever-expanding empire will pan out, but you can be sure that Smokedogg will proceed with the same blind ambition that was instilled by his father, the infamous Stoker. Stay tuned . . . .

In closing, Smokedoggydogg would like everyone to know that this latest escapade, the changing of the name to Baja Papa’s in order to facilitate the global expansion of the empire, and the new website, complete with membership capabilities, was all done with the ultimate goal of continuing to provide you, the customer, with the best Baja experience imaginable, whether you're actually down on the East Cape fishing, traveling down the Baja Peninsula, or simply sitting in your office or home wishing you were engaged in either of the
aforementioned Baja adventures.

That being said, we proudly bring you Baja Papa's East Cape Smokehouse, providing quality Baja style smoked seafood products, comprehensive fishing reports, and now the ultimate Baja Club Membership package, and doing so with generations of Family pride.

Chris Moyers, a.k.a. Smokedoggydogg

© 2015