Brian Poe Bringing a New Vision to Bukowski Tavern

The new owner is renovating both spaces and ‘amping up’ the menus.

brian poe

Photo courtesy of Tip Tap Room.

As was first reported by the Boston Business Journal this morning, Gordon Wilcox of the Wilcox Hospitality Group (Estelle’s, Parish Cafe, The Rattlesnake) has turned to Brian Poe to revamp both Bukowski Tavern locations. Poe says the two—already mutual equity owners in the Tip Tap Room, The Rattlesnake, and Estelle’s in the South End—began discussions about the new partnership six months ago. “When I first met Gordon Wilcox back in 2007, he told me he wanted to get me back to having fun, since I had been in fine dining for so long. I really loved the idea because, every once in a while, you just want to drop an F-bomb, throw down a good playlist, and drink a beer. When the option came up to join Gordon and Suzi [Dobeli] as an owner in Bukowski’s, I was stoked because it’s the type of crowd and environment I really like to cook for.”

The menu and interior facelift will first focus on the restaurant’s Cambridge location, which began construction on July 14. Poe says the look of Bukowski’s will be “more open without losing its ‘garage’ aesthetic.” The Wilcox Hospitality Group anticipates reopening the Cambridge spot in two to four months. In the meantime, Poe will be running experimental specials at the Tip Tap Room and Poe’s Kitchen to gauge customer response and help streamline the new menu. Some menu updates customers can expect to see are gourmet hot dogs, wild game burgers, and an array of vegan entrees.

“We’re going to amp up the quality of the cuisine,” Poe says. “I’m not going to take the fun out of the environment. The White Trash Cheese Dip, the Mug Club, and fun things like that are going to stick around, but we’re going to add some color to the menu. We’ll be stepping it up with wild game and some really cool vegan stuff. We’re polishing it up for the Inman Square neighborhood.”

After renovations are complete at Cambridge, Poe will turn his attention to Bukowski’s second location. The chef admits that the petite kitchen in Back Bay could prove to be more problematic. That’s why back in March, Poe spent a night cooking in the cramped space, when Bukowski’s hosted a tapping of Spencer Trappist ale.

“I went over there and played around with a special menu for the Spencer tasting,” Poe says. “It was encouraging to see that you could do some fun things like duck wings and pork belly tater tots. What I love about the Bukowski’s brand is that it’s, ‘fuck Valentine’s Day, fuck St. Paddy’s, and fuck a bunch of fine dining.’ Let’s just have fun! Don’t get me wrong, I believe in good service and high quality food, but I want to be able to do that in blue jeans while watching the Sox game.”