Restaurant junkies are akin to vultures when word spreads that a cool place is opening soon.
They perch on the new spot’s website and Facebook page, brood sullenly and post endless “When are you opening?” messages. Few ever get the point that even the operator rarely knows the exact
date—it’s always one frickin’ city inspection away—but wait they do, fingers crossed that they’ll be the first to breach the threshold of the latest and assumed to be greatest.
Feast BBQ (116 W. Main St. in New Albany) finds itself awash in that blend of customer enthusiasm and angst as owner Ryan Rogers is saying he’s opening a little more than a week from now. French Culinary Institute grad (New York) and Oakroom veteran bears a good pedigree and the firm belief he can help fill the good barbecue void in the area.
“Everything is going to be smoked on site and all food done from scratch,” said Rogers, who counts La Coop executive chef, Bobby Benjamin, and Theater Square Marketplace executive chef, Dallas McGarity, among his local mentors. Expect the usual ‘cue selections of brisket, ribs, shoulder and butt, chicken—even tofu—platters, sandwiches, tacos, sliders and salads.
But don’t look for a single barbecue “style” applied to those products. “Texas brisket is best, North Carolina pulled pork is the best, so I’m taking the best of everything and doing those meats in those (established) styles. There are too many places that have great brisket and mediocre pulled pork or ribs because they’re doing them all one way.”
The restaurant itself should be a beaut, too, set up in a 133-year-old building (click here to see some Facebook photos) in downtown New Albany, a neighborhood that’s enjoying a restaurant boom of late. The building has been vacant since 1986, so it required a total restoration including electrical, plumbing and floors.
“We really wanted to reclaim all we could, so we even built tables out of the floors we got rid of,” Rogers said. “We also discovered that, originally, it was called The Sunny Side Saloon.”
Rogers wants to uphold that bit of history by including a solid, though limited bar program in the 62-seat fast-casual restaurant. Expect a short list of bourbon cocktails and a craft-draft lineup of 12 beers (yes, locals included.)
“We wanted to do really great barbecue at an approachable price point,” Rogers said. “You could easily get out of here for $8 to $10, but if you have a beer and a couple of sides, it’s going to be closer to $20 per person.”
* Want to learn more about Feast? Tune into the ChefBoyarDean Show next Thursday (7-8 p.m. 1080 WKJK A.M. or on your iHeart Radio app) when I fill in for the vacationing restaurateur and host, Dean Corbett. Rogers will be my guest, in addition to Roger Baylor (co-owner of Bank Street Brewhouse and the New Albanian Brewing Co.) and Ian Hall (owner of the Exchange pub + kitchen, who is moving his restaurant from Grantline Road next door to Feast on Main St.) We’ll talk lots about developing restaurant row there and why we’ll fight to ensure it won’t be nicknamed NuAl.)