Food-truck-with-a-following Smoke BBQ jumped on the opportunity to take over the previous Motobar space when vegan creative Paris Evans decided to leave the restaurant world and go West. Co-owners Roland and Michael Feldman want to bring "elevated" barbecue to Upper King with Smoke.
The 487 King St. address is quickly transitioning into a barbecue restaurant with minimal changes to the decor. The interiors of Motobar were a bit rock n' roll and worn looking, which is easily transforming into a casual, barbecue-friendly dining room. The new owners have replaced the twee accessories of Motorbar, like the floral seat covers and Annie Leibovitz books, with a flame mural and a pared-down seating area.
The Feldman brothers already have the kitchen and smoker set up with approval from DHEC. Roland will be in the kitchen creating his brand of "elevated" barbecue. What is that? It's familiar flavors of the typical smoke shack but with great attention paid to all the details. Roland will pickle the jalapenos with a special blend of spices, make his own sauerkraut for pastrami sandwiches, source buns from Brown's Court, and use a reduction of Funkmaster Brett IPA from Revelry Brewing in his cheddar ale sauce. "It's still barbecue at the end of the day though," says Roland. The flavors will be familiar to all smoked meat fans, but the special touches will elevate the dishes. After an explanation of his techniques, the chef states, "If I'm going to cook, I'm going to have fun. And if I'm having fun, I'm going to make magic."
Roland has an extensive culinary background, with a formal education from Johnson & Wales in Colorado, experience working for James Beard Award-winning chef Jennifer Jasinski in Denver, Peninsula Grill chef Graham Dailey, and Two Boroughs Larder chef Josh Keeler.
Michael Feldman will run the front of the house with his knowledge from being a manager at Hyman's at 19 and then operating an Andolini's franchise. His focus is on keeping the service quick and reliable.
Bar manager Russ Friar (formerly of The Rarebit) is concocting a "let's say delicious, not craft" cocktail menu with a focus on drinks that are easy to sip with barbecue and price points in the single digits.
Smoke plans to host a soft opening this week and unlock the doors to the public on Friday, June 12.