I think we can all agree now that a vegan motorcycle-themed restaurant was not what Charleston was missing. The concept that was Motobar stalled out like a rusty Triumph. But the owner of Smoke food truck, Roland Feldman, and his brother Michael, think the remaining parts of Motobar are still good and are rebuilding the space as a Charleston-meets-Memphis blues-driven barbecue joint. But can their new Smoke BBQ restaurant break the curse of 487 King St.?
“I really feel what we’re doing will stick for a couple reasons,” says Roland. “One, the space is an excellent location. Two, we’re in the South and people love barbecue.”
For the past year, Roland and former business partner Joe Wolfson have been building a loyal following parking their mobile ‘cue wagon at James Island’s Buck Lumber. “What we’re doing is a little bit more forward than traditional barbecue,” explains Roland who attended Colorado’s Johnson & Wales and cooked at Peninsula Grill. The guys smoke their own brisket as well as make their own cheddar sauce, sauerkraut, and kimchi (which they plan to offer in a Bloody Mary). “At the end of the day we’re elevating barbecue, but not taking it away from its roots.” Pair that with live blues and rock ‘n’ roll and Roland thinks they’ll have a hit with Smoke BBQ.
To make the music element happen Roland has brought on his brother Michael, manager of 487 Hospitality. The group is owned by Stella Nova’s Peter Evans and Music Farm’s owner Marshall Lowe. Roland says that when Peter’s daughter Paris decided to move on from Motobar, Peter, Marshall, and Michael felt that the barbecue and live music concept would serve the space well.
“My brother is really good at packing a house,” says Roland. “Believe it or not, that spot will hold a decent band.” To make the space more conducive to blues shows, Smoke BBQ will not have servers. “Just like Butcher & Bee or Ted’s Butcherblock, there will be a big board behind the bar and you’ll order there. And you’ll be able to get food to go.” Roland hopes to sate bar-goers late night hankering for a beef and cheddar or pastrami sandwich. “We’d love to incorporate a to-go window,” he adds. “But we’ll see what the BAR says about that.”
Roland says Smoke BBQ will be open seven days a week and plans to have Sunday brunch once the kitchen settles in. The brothers hope to have the restaurant open by June 10.