When Eric Allred first opened Red Cheetah Smokehouse in 2012, he often spent entire nights at the restaurant.

To prepare authentic barbecue, Allred kept watch on the smoker, which runs 24 hours a day, six days a week at the New Freedom eatery.

The meat takes 5 to 17 hours to cook, and someone has to watch the fire. Allred, who opened the business with his friend Mike Serra, said he goes through two to three cords of hickory wood a week to make the pulled pork, pit meat, ribs and chicken he serves.

But the barbecue aficionado said the end result - great taste - is worth it.

"It's tender. It's juicy - a good smoked flavor," he said. "I have people who come from the South who say it's authentic Southern-style barbecue.

A freshly cut 12 ox Rib-eye steak that is grilled with hickory with two sides for $18.59 at Red Cheetah Smokehouse in Shrewsbury.
A freshly cut 12 ox Rib-eye steak that is grilled with hickory with two sides for $18.59 at Red Cheetah Smokehouse in Shrewsbury. (FLIPSIDE -- PAUL KUEHNEL)
"

Allred and Serra used to talk about opening a restaurant in high school. Allred, 40, said he was laid off from his construction job during the recession and then did contract work.

He finally saw their chance.

"I got tired of it," he said. "I called up Mike and said, 'Let's open a restaurant.'"

I stopped by Red Cheetah early on a Wednesday evening to pick up a pulled pork sandwich to go. When I walked into the restaurant, which is tucked away in a strip mall, I inhaled the flavor Allred spoke of. When I got back in my car, the delicious aroma followed me.

I had planned to eat the sandwich later, but I thought I'd take a peek to see what it looked like. I expected to see it slathered in barbecue sauce, the way some restaurants in York County prepare pulled pork. But there wasn't a drop. The flavor came from a rub and the smoking process. I took a few bites. It was delicious.

As I wrapped the foil back around the sandwich, I had a strange thought: I wish I indulged more often for Cheap Eats.

This is my last Cheap Eats column. After visiting 75 restaurants and talking with dozens of owners, I'm passing the fork. But don't worry, I'm leaving the column in good hands. Ashley May will continue to bring you the best Cheap Eats throughout the area.

But I'm not going anywhere. You can still find my work in the Living section of the York Daily Record and on our wellness blog, No Sweat, York.

Cheap Eats profiles local restaurants, aiming to please our palates and our wallets. Reach Leigh Zaleski at 717-771-2101, lzaleski@ydr.com, @leighzaleski.

For more Cheap Eats, visit the Flipside Blog's Cheap Eats page.

About Red Cheetah

LOCATION: 17 Old Farm Lane, New Freedom

CUISINE: Barbecue

LEIGH'S PICK: Pulled pork sandwich, $8

PARKING: Yes

HOURS: 11 a.m. to

8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

PRICE RANGE: $1.89 to $18.87

ALCOHOL: No

ACCEPTS: Cash

TAKEOUT: Yes

KID'S MENU: No

DETAILS: Call 717-759-8017 or visit www.redcheetahsmoke