Downtown BBQ restaurant featuring carryout and a ‘Porky Parfait’ set to open
photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo
Obviously, a perfect place to locate a carryout barbecue restaurant would be next to a U-Haul store. (There is only so much brisket you can fit in a trunk.) But a local businessman is betting that downtown Lawrence will be a great place too.
A barbecue joint with the very utilitarian name Wed-Sat BBQ is set to open at 733 New Hampshire St. in the next one to two weeks, owner Kevin Augustus told me.
Augustus used to operate Poor Boy BBQ at 19th and Massachusetts streets. It shared space with the Poor Boy Burrito Company but closed about a year ago after the sharing arrangement for that kitchen space didn’t work as well as envisioned.
“But I had so many people telling me I needed to be doing this downtown,” Augustus said. “But I didn’t want to spend that much money to move.”
Along came a unique opportunity, though. Augustus has secured a lease for just a portion of the former Grinders restaurant space on New Hampshire. Wed-Sat BBQ will be located on the far southern end of that building. Its business will be strictly carryout, catering and delivery through the typical third-party delivery services. The restaurant will have no dine-in seating, but rather just a small lobby area where people walk up to a counter to make an order and pick it up.
As for its days of operation, surely you have figured those out by now: Wednesday through Saturday. It will have hours that indicate a true barbecue joint.
“11 a.m. until we run out,” Augustus said.
As for the type of barbecue, Augustus said he came up through the Kansas City competition barbecue ranks — Checkered Flag Smokehouse was his team — so the offerings definitely will have a Kansas City-style to them. That means a certain amount of sweetness in its sauce and spices, but Augustus said the real key to the operation would be the tenderness of the meat.
“I will be doing all the cooking because consistency is the main thing in this business,” Augustus said.
In terms of what he’ll be cooking, those offerings will include the traditional pulled pork, brisket, sausages, ribs and other items that you see in a variety of barbecue restaurants. Customers will be able to get those dishes in all the traditional forms, but Augustus said Lawrence likes some creativity with its barbecue as well.
That’s the cue for a Porky Parfait. It is a dish served in a large ice cream soda type of glass. The layers include mashed potatoes, pulled pork or brisket, cheddar cheese and parts of a smoked sausage on top.
“We sold a bunch of them at the old place,” Augustus said.
photo by: Courtesy: Wed-Sat BBQ
If the dish sort of reminds you of another type of popular parfait, that is by design.
“I went to Dairy Queen and had a Peanut Buster Parfait, and it just kind of rang a bell,” Augustus said of the inspiration for the dish.
Look for some other unique offerings too. Augustus said on special days the restaurant would offer stuffed cornbread. A regular side will be a slightly sweet cornbread. But Augustus has a recipe for stuffing that cornbread with either pulled pork or brisket. He also expects fried okra to be a regular feature on the menu, a dish that can be hard to find in other locations.
He said his previous barbecue restaurant was open long enough to give him confidence that people like the mix of offerings and overall style of his barbecue. He said he uses different woods for different styles of meats, rather than taking a one-size fits all approach, plus uses several different spice combinations.
“I think it just has a good balance of flavors,” he said. “Plus, the meat is always tender.”
He is betting that it might go well with music too. Augustus said one of the people who most encouraged him to move his business downtown was Mike Logan, owner of several downtown music venues, including The Bottleneck, which is next door to the restaurant.
While it is unclear when pandemic restrictions will ease enough for concerts to resume at that location, Augustus said he was optimistic that his restaurant and The Bottleneck would be able to partner together on a concert and a meal deal package.
He thinks there will be other opportunities to capitalize on the usually active downtown scene. The area, though, hasn’t had a lot of barbecue restaurants recently. Buffalo Bob’s Smokehouse was a staple for decades — Augustus said he someday wants a menu item featuring curly-cue fries “piled high to the sky” in honor of Buffalo Bob’s — but others have struggled to last in downtown.
That’s one of the reasons he is starting on a smaller basis with just the carryout and delivery options. However, Augustus said he thought he’d be able to secure additional space in the building if he decides to start offering dine-in service.
“This is kind of a test case,” he said.