In late 2018, Top Chef alum BJ Smith made the decision to close his barbecue spot, Smokehouse Tavern, and open a modern Polish restaurant called Delores in its place. Starting next month, however, he’s doing the opposite: While dining rooms remain closed during the coronavirus outbreak, Smith will reopen Smokehouse Tavern in its original space May 7, offering barbecue for takeout and delivery instead of Delores’s pierogis and kielbasa.
Delores originally closed on March 16, choosing to wait out the outbreak instead of staying open with delivery and takeout. But since then, things have changed. “[We] shut [Delores] down originally to avoid putting people at risk, and now that we have the information we need to to keep our customers and employees safe, we can get people the food they want and get people back to work,” Smith says. However, the chef thought a return to the Southern staples of Smokehouse would make more sense than pastrami and creamed cabbage in clamshell containers. In addition to the brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken, and other smoked meats, the restaurant will serve sides like mac and cheese and braised greens, plus some fan favorites like tacos from Taco Tuesday, deviled eggs, and Frito pies. Available for delivery through Caviar and Postmates, as well as for pick-up, Smokehouse Tavern will also offer meat by the pound, full chickens, and sides by the quart for family meals. It will also join the list of restaurants offering cocktail mixers to-go, though the team has not decided on any recipes yet.
Initially, it will just be Smith in the kitchen and co-owner and general manager Matt Green helping him run the operation, with hours from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday; if the demand is there, Smith says, they’ll consider bringing on more staff and adding hours or days. Smith says it’s unclear if this switch-up is temporary or permanent; for now, he plans to see how it goes.
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