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"Grand Cafe" smoker Costco

Does anyone have any experience with this. I like smoking, but am tired of sitting and tending charcoal. Want a gas one. This seems to be a nice design and the construction appears sturdy. I tend to keep things for a long time. Thoughts?

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  1. well, since no one had any thoughts (and the reviews of this unit, in general, are scarce) i decided to be the guinea pig.

    bought one on friday, assembled it on saturday, and smoked five full racks of ribs today. took approximately seven hours, but the meat was falling off the bones after hour four. still have some tweaking to do, but a very successful first try. will post again later after i have checked a few things out and have used it again.

    would love to hear from others.

    2 Replies
    1. re: justanotherpenguin

      Just got a scratch and dent one from Costco for a decent price. Actually just a dinged up box. Price had dropped to $347. Looking forward to firing it up. Glad to hear your results were good. Did it produce some good smoke?

      1. re: Wildcat64

        I just put mine together. Well, my wife did; she's an engineer and I'm the cook! It looks pretty good, and I'm going to smoke a turkey and brisket this week. I'd be interested in any feedback on this smoker or your experiences, hints and tips. Thanks.

    2. i am thrilled to not be the lone guinea pig anymore. hope that both of you continue posting on this topic.

      since it sounds like this weekend might be the first time effort for both of you, i'd like to share a couple of observations. 1st - the thermometer goes to 600 degrees! very misleading. if you read the manual (yes, finally broke down and did that), you will find that the actual expected cooking range is 220-250 (low to high). so do not expect it to heat up very quickly. my first attempt took about two hours to get to 220, so i did things differently the 2nd time:
      1. filled up the drip pan with HOT water;
      2. used tin foil to cover the vent on the back; and
      3. (this is probably overkill) stuck one of those electric charcoal starters inside while
      the heat came up to speed.
      with these additions, the temp reached 220 in about 20-25 minutes. both times used the "high" setting.
      (on the topic of the rear vent - i would love it if someone would share their knowledge of how it works. mine does not close completely [maybe i assembled it wrong?], it simply slides in and out. any thoughts?)

      so i cooked two full racks of baby backs. substantial heavy rub the night before, then cooked for 3 hours at 220-230, then placed (sealed individually) into tinfoil with some apple juice and honey for another 2 1/2 hours. the plan at this point, was to remove them, cut them into 2-3 riblet pieces, and finish them on a grill with a honey/ginger/teriyaki glaze. this did not work because they started to fall apart as i started cutting them up (with a very, very sharp boning knife yet!). however, as they started to fall off the bones, our little group of 6 decided to "sample" the pieces and it was quickly determined that there was absolutely no reason to continue the cooking process. so they were promptly consumed, with the glaze on the side. so it was a success, but not as planned.

      to answer your question about smoke: yes, produced a nice amount and created a very nice ring in the meat. i used apple wood both times. once i soaked it for an hour, the other time overnight - overnight is better. the 2nd time, i also took a head of garlic, broke it into cloves (unpeeled) and put it on the wood. you could smell it at least 100 feet away! very nice!

      so good luck with your efforts. please do post results and insights.

      1. Howdy, I have not had as good luck with mine, it takes the unit 30-40 mins to get smoking and then it only smokes for 30 minutes....my model #csm07alp even has a after market smoker tray.....It never did smoke with the stk tray. What am I doing wrong?

        1. Can you use this thing as a smoker for making sausage?

          2 Replies
          1. re: yayadave

            yayadave, I do not think the model I have would be good for sausage or any heavy smoking. The absence of any functioning baffle system doesn't allow it, and the low level of smoke and duration is not vey good. I am taking mine back to Costco today, even with the retro fit smoker tray it is below my expectations. My BBQ doea a good job of adding some smoky flavor so it will have to do for the 4th.........

            1. re: Uncle Rog

              Thanks. I figured it might be two different types of smoker and you confirmed it.

          2. i have now used the smoker three times. two sets of ribs and a pork shoulder. i too am having a problem getting any significant smoke from the unit. i have sent the following email to "customer service @ grand cafe"; i'll let you know if and when i get a response.

            "i purchased the above smoker at costco on june 15th. have used it three times so far. i am pleased with the construction and ease of use of the unit, but i have a couple of issues that i would like you to address:

            1. in my opinion, a "smoker" should produce a significant amount of smoke. i have followed your instructions, have read the disclaimer about inducing flavor rather than producing smoke, and am not satisfied. perhaps i am doing something wrong. i would appreciate some input, or maybe a direction of where (like a website, etc.) i can go to get more smoke. i am planning on smoking some homemade sausage, and i know that actual smoke will be an important part of the equation;

            2. why does the thermometer go to 600, when the smoker will not go over 250? is there any kind of aftermarket device that will allow the smoker to maintain a specific temperature (like a thermostat with a sensor)?

            3. exactly how is the rear vent supposed to function? unless i assembled mine incorrectly, it does not close completely, is always open, and only the length of the extension changes if you move it in and out. i learned after my first attempt that i need to cover the vent with tinfoil (since i can't close it) in order for the unit to heat up to desired temperature in a reasonable period of time. any input would be appreciated.

            all three of these items are a concern, but the first is a potential deal breaker (thank God for costco's customer satisfaction policy!). so i would appreciate some help and maybe i will not have to return it."

            13 Replies
            1. re: justanotherpenguin

              penguin, I returned the unit today, full refund. As I stated, even with the new part, the smoke tray is too far from the flame so it only smokes for about 30 minutes. The thermometer is generic, no smoker should go to 600, at least not mine as I smoke at 200 most of the time, sometimes 220. The baffle is useless, very little smoke and no way to retain it. You can try to contact Elysa at Grand Hall, cs02@grandhall.com, she has been very helpful, but the unit is not designed properly, too bad I loved it!!
              Just an aside, the unit should not create a huge amount of smoke, just a slow continuous flow to keep the meat enveloped during the long term duration of the "smoke". If too much smoke is created the taste is ruined.......

              1. re: Uncle Rog

                i did not hear back from grand hall today. if i don't hear in the next couple days, i will call elysa - thank you for that info.

                in the meantime, prior to buying this one i had done some online research and came up with a "cabelas" smoker. does anybody know anything about it? link follows:

                http://www.cabelas.com/prod-1/0030018...

                1. re: justanotherpenguin

                  I have seen the Weston model on several web sites, they range in price from $400 at cooking.com to $98 at Wal Mart for the same unit !! I am talking with some other people because I really want a smoker that works. The Masterbuilt in Cabelas is another option. The electric units will also "cold" smoke which is a valid option, I will get back to you on this.....

                  1. re: justanotherpenguin

                    Depending on how serious you folks are, you might want to go straight to Sausage Maker.
                    http://www.sausagemaker.com/index.asp...

                    1. re: yayadave

                      Here is a link to the Walmart version of the Weston unit, $245 at Cabelas / Sausage Maker, $98 at wally world ....... http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produc...

                      1. re: Uncle Rog

                        Looks to me like you're right. But I think the "Walmart version" is a dummied down knock-off. Like not stainless steel. But then, at $150 less, it might be just fine. It's not like you use it every day and leave it out in the rain in between times.

                        1. re: yayadave

                          yayadave, you are right, it is a "$100" smoker, however it does smoke in about 10 minutes and puts out a good amount that lasts for a little over an hour per load. It IS NOT anywhere near the quality of materials as the stainless steel units, the door and sides are not insulated, but it does smoke and will be a temporary fix until I find another "worl class" unit.......

                          1. re: Uncle Rog

                            Well, if it works, it works. If it is not problematic, you could run it 'till the wheels falloff.

                            1. re: yayadave

                              That particular design is universal, it would appear, to most of the vertical models. The Vermont Casting site has a PDF showing assembly and operating instructions, an exact mirror image of the Smokies! The differences are size, stainless construction, double walls, drip diverters, drip pan, two additional dampers and perhaps the size of the chip pan and of course $650 bucks less. I will use this for a little while until I find "the hot ticket"......

                        2. re: Uncle Rog

                          OK, I made a decision. I bought the Masterbuilt from Cabelas for the house and the gas combo for the RV. The electric unit comes set up for sausage and has the versatility of heat 100-275 degrees. I have a buddy that has the Cook Shack FEC100, $3,300.00! , and puts out some great smoked food, meat, cheese,vegetables just about anything. The gas unit is pretty versatile, it smokes, grills and can use propane or charcoal and it comes with a stand alone burner unit, very handy when camping. All in all I think I made a good decision and will report my results after testing.....

                          1. re: Uncle Rog

                            My wife just informed me that she bought the Wallyworld version this morning, I cancelled the Masterbuilt, the combo unit is still coming. Dave I think you are probably right......I will assemble and test smoke it tonight and report tomorrow or Saturday......

                            1. re: Uncle Rog

                              I made modifications to my smoker. I took your friends idea for the rear vent and applied it. I completly removed the smoke tray and holder and took the stainless steel packaging that came with the machine cut it inot length and placed one on each side of the burner to set the chip pan onto. It smokes like a champ. I have not made the modifications to the side vents yet but I will.

                        3. re: justanotherpenguin

                          grand hall never replied to my email, nor did i get a return phone call from elysa. so today i returned the unit, got my original $349 back.

                          IMPORTANT NOTE TO ANY OF YOU WHO MAY STILL HAVE ONE. THEY ARE NOW PRICED AT $199. SO IF YOU PAID MORE THAN THAT, YOU SHOULD GET SOME MONEY BACK, EVEN IF YOU CHOOSE TO KEEP IT!

                    2. Just bought one for $299.00 very exicited to results. I bought a small brisket (3lbs) It has been grilling for four hours and will cook about two more. Wood chips are not burning which leads me to believe this is a slow cooker, not a smoker. Very concerned! I have to cook for 60 people is a few weeks and fear I might have to cook for days and still not have smoke flavor.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: sspoert

                        follow up: brisket tasted great, but with no smoke flavor! No smoke ring. called Grand Hall they also want me to fill out warranty card and send in, then they will send me the Iretro fit chip tray. I'm concerned how long this process will take. I am not a happy camper right now.

                        1. re: sspoert

                          sspoert, if you read the earlier posts you will find out that you are right. The new part will arrive quickly but the unit will not smoke properly. I took mine back. I have a friend who modified his unit to work. He fashioned an L shaped piece of sheet metal about 6" high to shroud the burner unit, this keeps the wind form distorting the flame and directs the heat better to the chips. He also built a new chip tray to hold more chips. The last step was too modify the damper to close a bit more, easy to do with a dremmel tool. This mod works for the Grand Cafe model CSM07ALP. The unit now is a smoking machine! I am tempted to buy another one and make the mod's myself............

                          1. re: Uncle Rog

                            The sheet metal is a three side rectangle, not L shaped.............

                            1. re: Uncle Rog

                              is there any way that we could get a drawing of these modifications? i have not heard back from the company regarding my questions, and would still love to make it work - if it will work correctly.

                              1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                All you have to do is measure the area around the burner unit encompassing the igniter and the smoke chip tray. Measure the height to the bottom of the tray and deduct 1/2" for your height. Bend your sheet metal into a flat bottom U. You then notch the bottom of the unit to fit over the end of the burner at the rear of the smoker. What you are doing is protecting the burner from wind distortion and directing the heat right to the tray. If you have the tray with the cut out bottom this might be enough to git er done. The other mod is to make a new tray out of sheet metal with higher sides, what that does is keeps more chips in play just like the chimney's used to light charcoal. Good luck.....

                                1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                  This is part of the next post, the last mod was to use a dremmel to add to the cut outs in the damper. You can also elarge to bolt holes just so the damper dips down a bit, or too your liking, you really do not want to close it a 100%......

                                  1. re: Uncle Rog

                                    I wish I had seen this earlier. I had purchased on of these( we my wife did after I picked it out -been looking for a year a very delayed Birthday present from July 2006) because it looked so fantastic, the price was right and the size was more than adequate and it was gas. Got it home and it would NOT smoke took out the tray and used foil to hol;d the chips and still no smoke. Cranked the heat much higher than you would want to smoke at and then just a little smoke. Finally I took it back. I got a Green Egg knockoff and will probably now pick up a masterbuilt. Sams (closest to me)has 7 left of the 8 they started out with. will wait for the end of season price and pick it up. their master built is bigger than the regular masterbuilt units 40" high rather than 30". Costco no longer has the Grand Hall smoker in stock - either they dropped the price and sold them or pulled them because people could not get them to smoke. I really wanted that thing. I assume that next summer they will get the kinks worked out as this was the 2nd edition of the smoker in as many years.

                                    Masterbuilt told me that thier new units do not smoke as well as their old ones because of the modifications they had to make to take care of the FIRE issue they had. BUT I found a way to increase the smoke I will cut out a piece of metal and replace it with steel mesh.

                                    Wish I had been as creative with the Costco unit. Thanks for the forum, it is somewhat comforting to know that I was not the only one with the no smoking unit problem. Hope you guys that have figured it out have a great time with it.

                                    1. re: hcforde

                                      Sorry I took so long to chime in on this. I've got the same model that had the same problem of too little smoke and inadequate heat. By my experience, both chip trays are useless. I kept the smoker but modified it and now can maintain fairly constant 225 and can get about 2 hrs. of fairly heavy smoke with one stick of wood. Simple although a bit messy but I threw out the chip trays (both original and modified versions) and simpley put some aluminum foil under the burner for clean up and placed a short length of wet wood (I prefer maple) directly into the space that the tray occupied. It's not nice and neat and requires care as to the surface that you smoker is on (mines on a concrete slab in an outdoor kitchen) but it works as good or better than anything I've had short of a multi thousand dollar or custom built unit.

                                      For the price I paid at Costco, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah I'm satisfied now that I've got it to work.

                              2. re: Uncle Rog

                                spoke with Grand Hall yesterday, they are back ordered with replacements chip tray till September. I cooked four pork shoulders and one large brisket yesterday four twelve hours, couldn't get temp. over 190, and couldn't get meat temp over 160. I had to cook half in the over and the other half on our weber to have meat ready for party i was cooking for that night. I had temp on grill set at high all day to no avail. how can a company manufacture a product with such major flaws, I mean if a smoker doesn't smoke what good is it. I really wanted this to work because it is very nice looking cooker at a reasonable price. i wonder how many are beeing shipped back. I am cleaning it up now to take back to Costco, I trust they will let me return. Back on the market for a smoker........................

                                1. re: sspoert

                                  I think the way to go is the vertical, cabinet style smokers. Cabelas has a very nice SS unit for $299 that one of my customers has used for several years and likes it a lot. The cheapo my wife bought at Wal Mart works like a champ. The unit is small though and if you over loaded it, it would be a b**** to clean up. The nicer units have deflectors for drippings to divert into the pan, and come with sausage racks etc......

                                  1. re: sspoert

                                    I have never had mine above the lowest heat setting....I find that I am producing too much heat if anything....set on low with a pork butt and a brisket I stayed at 210 for almost the entire cooking process. I think yours must be defective.

                                  2. re: Uncle Rog

                                    Uncle Rog, just bought one from Costco... Maybe should have researched first, but it was the last one and I got it for 125.... not taking it back will use as slow cooker at worst. Luckily my father in law bends metal.. Can you refer me to your friend? I would like to discuss his mod above and any other tricks he may have discovered to improve the unit.....

                                2. re: sspoert

                                  I also have the Grand Cafe smoker, what I do is to smoke my meats in my lil-cheif smoker for 1 hour which really smokes ,then transfer it to the grand cafe. works terrific.

                                3. Try the Bradley smoker. www.bradleysmoker.com. I have a digital one. I can cold smoke with a few minor modifications and I routiniely do several prok shoulders simultaneously for 20 hours at 180-190. Turns out superb and it doesn't request constant babysitting

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Tim77

                                    Your link has a typo. Remove the "." at the end of it.

                                    1. re: Tim77

                                      I've had a Bradley for a year now and can't imagine living without it. From sides of salmon to brisket to ribs it gets a real workout and couldn't be easier. Not referred to as "lazy-q" for nothing.

                                    2. I found this forum AFTER buying the smoker. I too am having trouble producing much smoke. I called the Grand Cafe customer service line expecting a replacement chip-tray. They said they'd send me one....after I sent them $11.41. I told them that I felt it a rip-off that they would charge me extra to get my smoker to smoke, and that it would be cheaper for them to send the chip tray for free than to process the Costco return. They're okay with that - they want their money. Since I didn't get one of the great deals that others have spoken of, I'm in no mood to modify the unit. So I returned it. Not sure what I'll replace it with - reading other forums (Amazon, for example), seems all the smokers have people how love/hate them. Bradley is a good choice, though everyone complains of the proprietary pellets required ($1/hour to smoke).

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: pete_pisc

                                        I love my Bradley and the cost of the pucks is trivial compared to the ease of use. I can pop a brisket in at night and come back 8 hours later without having to worry about it. Also, Bradley has a "philosophy" about their pucks; that the best smoke develops early in the burn and burning larger pieces of wood, while certainly giving you longer smoking time, ends up releasing more bitter resins. With the puck system, each puck is extinguished in the water bowl after 20 minutes of smoke development. Also, Amazon's had the pucks on their 4-for-3 promotion for quite some time, so you get 4 boxes for about $47 - so it's about 75 cents an hour.

                                        Also, smoking salmon in this thing is nearly foolproof. I can do 2 sides of Costco salmon in about 80 minutes. However, my kids can usually finish the salmon in far less time. Same for jerky.

                                      2. WHY CANT ONE DRILL OUT THE BURNER TUBE OPENING ANOTHER 2 0R 3 THOUSANDS FOR MORE FLAME ????

                                        1. Does anyone know why they have a welded screw in the burner tube whick prevents you from inserting a cleanibg brush?

                                          1. I am totally impressed with the construction of the smoker...I especially like that the entire unit is insulated unlike many other models which have simple sheet metal doors that loose way to much heat.
                                            I am disappointed with the amount of smoke produced with the supplied tray. SOLUTION....I drilled several holes in the tray to allow more heat to reach the wood and additionally I place 1-3 pieces of lit charcoal in the tray with my wood and have found that this helps tremendously. Smoke production is perfect. Remember that you only need smoke for the first few hours...
                                            I also bought mine at Costco at a discounted price (floor model...perfect condition) and did alot of comparison shopping ahead of time. Excellent buy IMO...happy smoking!!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: bwwerley

                                              I bought this Grand Cafe Smoker from Costco a long time ago and cooked with it a couple of times, did not like it and pushed it to the back of my garage thinking I was messing it up. I have been working with it for a couple of days now - plan on smoking a turkey on T-Day. The easiest way to increase the smoke is to pull out the smoke tray support - held in place by four screws - use your bench grinder to cut off the bottom triangular piece of metal and turn it around and put it on the floor of the smoker. There is a lip on the front of the smoker which causes the rack to tilt down towards the back - but it smokes like crazy now...

                                              1. re: Minotaurchief

                                                I've had my smoker for 3 years and have never been happy with it. The valve stem broke so the control knob is now useless. I have taken the unit apart to replace the valve and have been trying to figure out how to modify the unit for higher cooking temps (<200 doesn't cut it) and more smoke. Thanks for the tips, I will incorporate them. I'm planning on adding a second burner as well otherwise the unit is completely useless when winter temps come in to play. I'll post my final mods and results.

                                            2. I bought a really nice looking stainless steel warming cabinet at Costco that was described as a smoker...well 3 years later it finally is one. I replaced the original burner and drilled out the orifice, moved the original burner to the side and added a second valve. I also made other interior mods by cutting the heat deflector from under the chip tray, blocked half the air vents, added wind screens around the burners and replaced the smoke baffle with one that can control air flow. It is now a smokin machine. Details and photos available on request

                                               
                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: arizonasmoker

                                                Costco has a new model with a different name and maker. It looks very close tot he old model, but I'm not sure if they fixed the old issues. Maker: Outdoor Leisure Products - Costco #: 502353 - Price: $299.99. The company has nothing on the website about this model. I'm going to call to see if it's something special for Costco. (www.olp-inc.com)

                                                 
                                                 
                                                 
                                                 
                                                1. re: Audiophile

                                                  Can anyone tell me the Costco #502353 smoker what model number this smoker is when looking on the www.olp-inc.com website? I am looking at buying accessories from the website but there is no model 502353 on that website so I wasn't sure if that was just costco's website.

                                                2. re: arizonasmoker

                                                  I am interested in the details and photos. Please provide them, thanks!

                                                  1. re: joirv

                                                    Just bought one of those...nice smoker! apparently with the low heat issue fixed. mine heated up to 350f in about 20 minutes and so far I've cooked two pork butts at 220f for 17 hrs and three racks of baby backs at 200f for 6 hrs and with the initial breakin of 2hrs I've only used a little more than half of the 5gal lp bottle. Realy I have no complaints, it's a smokin machine!

                                                     
                                                  2. re: arizonasmoker

                                                    Hey arizonasmoker -
                                                    Could you please post the details and pics on how you fixed the problems with this smoker?
                                                    Thanks!
                                                    T

                                                    1. re: arizonasmoker

                                                      I would really like to see the mods you made.... I realize this is an older post.... but I just bought my Grand Cafe unit, new in the box for $200.... seems like with a few "Hot Rod" mods, it will be a keeper!
                                                      Thanks in advance, Steve in Las Vegas
                                                      sar@trp-architect.com

                                                      1. re: VegasSTEVE

                                                        Steve, I have an older model so I have drilled a bunch of holes in the bottom of my wood chip tray. I also added an aditional burner from an outdoor turkey fryer just next to the main burner, I use it in winter and also if I want xtra smoke I have a 1/2 coffee can with holes in it I fill with chips and put right on top of this burner. Also if I want heavy smoke I just set the chips in the tray on fire and let them burn themselves out and then replace with fresh chips.

                                                      2. re: arizonasmoker

                                                        I'd really like to get the details and pictures if I can. Chilipepro@aol.com