The Smoke Shop Is Taking Over the Tavern Road Space
Chef Andy Husbands’ “city barbecue” joint is expanding into the capital city. The Smoke Shop will open another location in Fort Point, taking over for the recently shuttered Tavern Road.
Husbands, who has owned and operated Tremont 647 for more than 20 years, has also been a champion pitmaster on the side with his competition team IQue Barbecue. He debuted the Smoke Shop in Cambridge in 2016.
Husbands and Tavern Road owners Louis and Michael DiBiccari share a business partner in Brian Lesser. With that connection, Husbands jumped on the location once it became available.
“I’ve been in love with Fort Point forever,” says Husbands, who moved to Massachusetts at 14. “What’s neat about Fort Point is it’s fancy, but old-timey, warehouse-y Boston. It’s old and new.”
The former Tavern Road, with its Congress Street-side floor-to-ceiling windows, “is a cool physical space,” Husbands says. The second Smoke Shop will recall the original with some design elements, including panels of steel knife cutouts repurposed from the Ayer factory of R. Murphy Knives.
“We definitely have a distinct look and we’re looking to carry that over,” Husbands says.
The second Smoke Shop will have its very own Old Hickory smoker, of course; it’s already being fabricated. It will also have a strong focus on brown spirits and beer. Unlike Tavern Road, the Smoke Shop will have a draft beer system.
A smaller dining room off the main space—at one point, it was the TR Street Food takeout concept—will be the Smoke Shop’s party room. “Barbecue’s meant for takeout,” Husbands notes, so that service will be available in Fort Point, too, albeit not out of the side room.
The menu will carry over the slow-smoked brisket, ribs, wings, fried chicken, corn bread, bacon collards, slaw, and more, with “a few surprises we’re working on that we think will be fun for that area,” Husbands teases.
For the past several weeks, Boston Restaurant Talk has been monitoring rumors swirling around like oak and cherrywood smoke about the Smoke Shop expanding. The blog foretold this location. As for a Somerville restaurant, too, Husbands won’t confirm—nor flat-out deny. Any other potential locations have “nothing to do with present day,” he says.
In a profile in the September issue of Boston, Lesser confirmed it: A third Smoke Shop is headed for Assembly Row next spring.
“Expanding was something we wanted to consider, but we wanted to make sure we could do what our our goals are: High quality barbecue with great ingredients, consistently. When [the Fort Point] opportunity came around, it made sense for us,” Husbands says.
The neighborhood continues to cement itself as a dining destination, home to a Barbara Lynch empire, Row 34, Flour Bakery, Bon Me, Barrington Coffee, a forthcoming Trillium brewpub, and more. And it’s hungry for barbecue: Hill Country, a Texas-by-way-of-New York honky tonk, was poised to open its first Massachusetts location in the neighborhood, only to see it fall through last year.
“I think we complement the area. It’s only going to get bigger and crazier, so we’re excited to be part of that scene,” Husbands says.
If things stay on track, the Smoke Shop could open in Boston in November.
The Smoke Shop, opening November 2017 at 343 Congress St., Fort Point, Boston; One Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-577-RIBS, thesmokeshopbbq.com.
This story was updated Monday, September 18, with new information from a Boston magazine profile on Brian Lesser.