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Hungry Hound effect on Smoque BBQ

Hungry Hound effect on Smoque BBQ
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  • Hungry Hound effect on Smoque BBQ

    Post #1 - March 3rd, 2007, 10:03 pm
    Post #1 - March 3rd, 2007, 10:03 pm Post #1 - March 3rd, 2007, 10:03 pm
    I had a craving for some brisket this afternoon, so the bride and I piled into the family truckster at 5:00 PM to make the trek down to Smoque.

    Lo and behold, we arrived there twenty minutes later to be greeted by double-parked cars and a mass of humanity unlike any that I had ever seen there previously. The dining room was jammed, and the line out the door was in excess of 100 feet. We approached the line and we were informed that the 'wait time' would be over an hour.

    Needless to say, being the impatient person that I am, we resorted to a hastily decided "plan B"---Drive back toward home and pick up Panino's.

    I just thought that I would inform the forum that, unless you plan on eating at some odd hour, your chances of easy in and out service ( for several weeks at least ) are slim to none.
  • Post #2 - March 4th, 2007, 3:24 am
    Post #2 - March 4th, 2007, 3:24 am Post #2 - March 4th, 2007, 3:24 am
    Huh, funny we ate there last night around 8:30-9 and walked right in to a table.

    I think the key might be to go closer to 9PM on a weekend night.
  • Post #3 - March 7th, 2007, 12:30 am
    Post #3 - March 7th, 2007, 12:30 am Post #3 - March 7th, 2007, 12:30 am
    March 6th, 2007 @ 9:15 PM:

    Image
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #4 - March 7th, 2007, 7:03 am
    Post #4 - March 7th, 2007, 7:03 am Post #4 - March 7th, 2007, 7:03 am
    Looks like I missed my window of opportunity on this place. Dayum.
  • Post #5 - March 7th, 2007, 8:29 am
    Post #5 - March 7th, 2007, 8:29 am Post #5 - March 7th, 2007, 8:29 am
    Should we call this the "LTH Effect"?

    How does a bbq joint open in December and run into so many issues of running out of food each night within three months?

    A victim of its own success.

    Is there any "good" time to go here?
  • Post #6 - March 7th, 2007, 8:40 am
    Post #6 - March 7th, 2007, 8:40 am Post #6 - March 7th, 2007, 8:40 am
    rdstoll wrote:How does a bbq joint open in December and run into so many issues of running out of food each night within three months?

    Rdstoll,

    To a BBQ centric fellow like myself, running out of meat once in a while is vastly preferable to cooking large amounts days, or even weeks, in advance. I know of one Southside BBQ joint, though I imagine there are many who do so, that goes so far as to freeze cooked meat.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #7 - March 7th, 2007, 11:09 am
    Post #7 - March 7th, 2007, 11:09 am Post #7 - March 7th, 2007, 11:09 am
    rdstoll wrote:Should we call this the "LTH Effect"?

    How does a bbq joint open in December and run into so many issues of running out of food each night within three months?

    A victim of its own success.

    Is there any "good" time to go here?


    It is the nature of BBQ. I for one do not want to frequent a place that has it's meat hanging around for days after cooking. I want a higher quality and fresher product. If they can only do so much then they can only do so much.

    My time to go? 11 am on weekdays - but I work near there and have flexibility in my schedule.
    I'm not Angry, I'm hungry.
  • Post #8 - March 7th, 2007, 12:04 pm
    Post #8 - March 7th, 2007, 12:04 pm Post #8 - March 7th, 2007, 12:04 pm
    I understand not wanting to have meat hanging around for days but in my time in Kansas City, I cannot recall too many (if any) instances where a good bbq joint simply ran out of brisket (for example) or was so overwhelmed with business that the lines were huge and long.

    Granted, Smoque is only three months old so I'm sure they will adjust over time, but I'm still surprised the problem seems to get getting worse, not better.
  • Post #9 - March 7th, 2007, 12:13 pm
    Post #9 - March 7th, 2007, 12:13 pm Post #9 - March 7th, 2007, 12:13 pm
    I wish Honey 1 had the same problems. (Except of course for the days I'm going there!)
  • Post #10 - March 7th, 2007, 1:19 pm
    Post #10 - March 7th, 2007, 1:19 pm Post #10 - March 7th, 2007, 1:19 pm
    cannot recall too many (if any) instances where a good bbq joint simply ran out of brisket (for example) or was so overwhelmed with business that the lines were huge and long


    . . . altho at the Original Sonny Bryan's (Inwood, TX branch) their original policy still holds: Open until 4 pm or until they run out of meat (which, on occasion, they still do).
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #11 - March 7th, 2007, 1:34 pm
    Post #11 - March 7th, 2007, 1:34 pm Post #11 - March 7th, 2007, 1:34 pm
    Stopped by on way back to office at 12:20 pm today. Line just about to go out the door. Chose not to wait. . . . .

    I really wanted some brisket.
  • Post #12 - March 8th, 2007, 10:18 am
    Post #12 - March 8th, 2007, 10:18 am Post #12 - March 8th, 2007, 10:18 am
    Actually, the fact that they close when they sell out makes me like this place even more. Reminds me of many roadside barbecue joints in the South.
  • Post #13 - March 8th, 2007, 10:35 am
    Post #13 - March 8th, 2007, 10:35 am Post #13 - March 8th, 2007, 10:35 am
    Jules wrote:Actually, the fact that they close when they sell out makes me like this place even more.

    I think it's fine for people who live in the immediate neighborhood, but running out of food and closing on a regular basis isn't an inducement to take a drive there. More like a game of BBQ Roulette.
  • Post #14 - March 8th, 2007, 10:42 am
    Post #14 - March 8th, 2007, 10:42 am Post #14 - March 8th, 2007, 10:42 am
    I certainly see your point riddlemay, but I still believe that closing when you sell out is just the nature of good barbecue joints. Maybe I am wrong.
  • Post #15 - March 8th, 2007, 11:32 am
    Post #15 - March 8th, 2007, 11:32 am Post #15 - March 8th, 2007, 11:32 am
    Ahhh...this explains why we found ourselves trapped in a long line of people wearing starter jackets and blue eyeshadow at Smoque last Saturday....

    It was the loud whining/arguing about the parking that got to us...we bailed...

    It's too bad, we had finally found our "eat good on the way home from volleyball at St. Bart's" joint. :cry:
  • Post #16 - March 8th, 2007, 5:41 pm
    Post #16 - March 8th, 2007, 5:41 pm Post #16 - March 8th, 2007, 5:41 pm
    Here's hoping their success inspires a flock of imitators....
  • Post #17 - March 8th, 2007, 6:56 pm
    Post #17 - March 8th, 2007, 6:56 pm Post #17 - March 8th, 2007, 6:56 pm
    LAZ wrote:Here's hoping their success inspires a flock of imitators....



    I second that thought! Chicago and the subs need more BBQ joints.
  • Post #18 - March 9th, 2007, 6:58 am
    Post #18 - March 9th, 2007, 6:58 am Post #18 - March 9th, 2007, 6:58 am
    Jules wrote:I certainly see your point riddlemay, but I still believe that closing when you sell out is just the nature of good barbecue joints. Maybe I am wrong.

    I don't think you're wrong at all, Jules. I just see danger for a place that trains its customers to understand that going there is a bad idea. To a hungry customer who has driven there with visions of brisket dancing in his head, a "sold out" sign on the door is just about the very definition of negative reinforcement.
  • Post #19 - March 9th, 2007, 9:22 am
    Post #19 - March 9th, 2007, 9:22 am Post #19 - March 9th, 2007, 9:22 am
    Agreed with one caveat, riddlemay.

    What's the lesser of two evils; being disappointed when the restaurant is closed/86'd on items, or getting in and having a bad meal due to over held food? I think that's the balance the owners of Smoque are trying to figure out.
    I used to think the brain was the most important part of the body. Then I realized who was telling me that.
  • Post #20 - March 9th, 2007, 9:33 am
    Post #20 - March 9th, 2007, 9:33 am Post #20 - March 9th, 2007, 9:33 am
    I don't think you're wrong at all, Jules. I just see danger for a place that trains its customers to understand that going there is a bad idea. To a hungry customer who has driven there with visions of brisket dancing in his head, a "sold out" sign on the door is just about the very definition of negative reinforcement.


    I can understand this, but in line with what Jules is saying, is the fact that many bbq places in the South in fact do, inadvertently, train their customers to come at a certain time if they want to eat. Reading above the suggestion of going closer to 9pm is unheard of at most of these Southern cue joints. You go there early (for many this is even around 11am), and after 5pm you are seriously running the risk of them being out of 'cue. They don't care, and seemingly the customers don't either -- they simply understand that's how it works. Alot of them don't even open their doors at all on Sundays, despite the significant earnings to be had.

    And if they are really caring for their craft, they won't take the chance of rushing some barbecue just to make sure they are always adhering to their hours of business. You have to respect that.
  • Post #21 - March 9th, 2007, 9:51 am
    Post #21 - March 9th, 2007, 9:51 am Post #21 - March 9th, 2007, 9:51 am
    It makes sense to me. If you close when the 'Q runs out, the worst that can be said about the place is, it was closed. The great South Side places do the same thing, in reverse. I've shown up at official opening time at BA's and Lem's only to be told, "Not ready yet." Much better answer than being handed yesterday's, or last week's, warmed-over remains.
  • Post #22 - March 10th, 2007, 12:31 pm
    Post #22 - March 10th, 2007, 12:31 pm Post #22 - March 10th, 2007, 12:31 pm
    I've been following the Smoque discussion since the place opened. We live one block away in Old Irving Park, and our neighborhood group, Old Irving Park Assn., worked with Barry to help make the place a reality. Smoque has been advertising in our community newsletter, and is bending over backwards to be considerate of the neighbors. My 14 year old son is already a groupie, and is eating his way through his savings.

    Part of the reason Smoque is being inundated is due to the amazing amount of press it's gotten: Trib, Reader, Chicago mag., various TV channels, and most recently "Cheap Eats" in the Trib on Thursday. That's not even listing all the foodie Internet chatter. I stopped in Tuesday at 3 PM, and the place was hopping. I recognized Ina Pinckney of Ina's chatting with Barry while sampling the fare.

    As far as the parking, if customers drove half a block west on Grace St. to Irving Park Middle School, there's parking all around after school hours, as well as on Pulaski. We've all been spoiled by expecting a spot right outside the door of everywhere we go.

    Our neighborhood is thrilled Smoque has become such a hot spot, partially because it proves to all those naysayers who prophesized that restaurants won't make it out here "in the middle of nowhere". I know that if you're in the mood for bbq it's hard to switch gears, but this neck of the woods is chock full of every kind of food establishment. Go to our website, http://www.oldirvingpark.com, click on "neighborhood directory", search for the two restaurant categories, and you'll get lots of other alternatives. Click on "map of neighborhood", and you'll get a visual of where all the places are, with contact info. We canvassed our entire neighborhood, and the site is a great resource of "stuff" on the NW side.

    Smoque did it's homework, and created a quality product. I hope other restaurant owners out there realize what an untapped market we have here.

    Anna "love the brisket sandwich" Sobor
  • Post #23 - March 10th, 2007, 6:20 pm
    Post #23 - March 10th, 2007, 6:20 pm Post #23 - March 10th, 2007, 6:20 pm
    Went for lunch on a Tuesday and went back on Wednesday. It really was good :D I talked with the owner and he said that his smokers are filled to capacity and he can't physically make more at this time. The wait was only 10-15 minutes but in that time he must of had 10 phone calls for carryout. He is worried about keeping up the quality and also getting in over his head. If he buys more smokers etc and business and the hype slows down, he will have too much capacity and debt. He wants to take it slow.
    He also said that he has had to order Chinese food for his staff because they ran out of food and he also doesn't want them eating food that could be sold to customers. :shock:
  • Post #24 - March 10th, 2007, 6:33 pm
    Post #24 - March 10th, 2007, 6:33 pm Post #24 - March 10th, 2007, 6:33 pm
    This is just a hunch, but the hype this place has received seems to suggest that the owners know some people in the media business. I'm not even suggesting that this is a bad thing, but I can't recall another frenzy over a barbecue joint similar to this.

    There is also a lesson here. If you have some capital, there is plenty of market in Chicago for top notch barbecue. Hell, even middling barbecue. There must be a dozen restaurant entrepreneurs making plans as I write this.
  • Post #25 - March 10th, 2007, 6:49 pm
    Post #25 - March 10th, 2007, 6:49 pm Post #25 - March 10th, 2007, 6:49 pm
    I would have to disagree. The owner seemed VERY surprised by all the praise. He couldn't believe the Hungry Hound gave such a nice review. Most of the praise was started by "word of mouth" not in the paper etc.
    My wife told me two months ago that everyone in her office raves about the place and they get carryout 3 days a week. She works for a radio station and the DJ's are addicted and they have told everyone. I also heard about it at a xmas party and it sounded so good that we all would have gone that minute if it wasn't 3am. This was all before the praise from the media. It is only recently that it is getting all the write-ups, seems the media loves jumping on the bandwagon. Chicago is a small town and news travels fast.
    Last edited by jones-n on March 10th, 2007, 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #26 - March 10th, 2007, 6:53 pm
    Post #26 - March 10th, 2007, 6:53 pm Post #26 - March 10th, 2007, 6:53 pm
    Jules wrote:There is also a lesson here. If you have some capital, there is plenty of market in Chicago for ... middling barbecue.


    fixed.

    sadly.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #27 - March 10th, 2007, 8:57 pm
    Post #27 - March 10th, 2007, 8:57 pm Post #27 - March 10th, 2007, 8:57 pm
    Well, I'd say what it also proves is something you could have observed here and at Chowhound-- if you noticed how often the question "Is there anything to eat in Old Irving Park?" came up. Clearly, a seriously underserved part of town waiting for a spiffy new American restaurant that wasn't a bar or fast food. There's a lesson there.
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  • Post #28 - March 17th, 2007, 12:10 pm
    Post #28 - March 17th, 2007, 12:10 pm Post #28 - March 17th, 2007, 12:10 pm
    jones-n wrote:Chicago is a small town and news travels fast.


    If Chicago is a small town, what would be a big town?
    ...Pedro
  • Post #29 - March 17th, 2007, 4:08 pm
    Post #29 - March 17th, 2007, 4:08 pm Post #29 - March 17th, 2007, 4:08 pm
    Just called at 4:45 on a Sat to order for pick-up and was told they are out of Pulled pork and sliced Brisket (only a little chopped brisket left).

    I was also told that sometimes when they real busy, they stop taking phone orders completely.

    Kinda crazy that they'll be out of half thier menu before dinner time.

    Good for them, bad for me.
  • Post #30 - March 18th, 2007, 5:58 am
    Post #30 - March 18th, 2007, 5:58 am Post #30 - March 18th, 2007, 5:58 am
    griffin wrote:Kinda crazy that they'll be out of half thier menu before dinner time.

    Good for them, bad for me.

    I guess it's good for them, although I worry on their behalf that by disappointing so many customers so many times, they're flirting with disaster.

    Obviously, the only reason they run out of food is that they're selling everything they can make, and what business could ask for a better "problem" than that? And one could argue that there's no problem, since, when you subtract the disappointed customers who won't be coming back, their future potential clientele will decline to exactly the number of people they can actually feed, which works out. But the bad will engendered might eventually cause their clientele to decline to fewer people than they can actually feed--when people stop calling in the first place or bothering to drive over, because they don't want to get pissed off--and that would be a problem. Excellent food may not be enough to bring people back once that occurs.

    I'm sure they're aware of this problem and doing everything they can to solve it without compromising the food, but it is one they should try to solve sooner rather than later. (With all respect to the BBQ mavens who find that a place regularly running out food only enhances its credibility, I wonder whether there are enough truly diehard mavens out there to support the business. You need some of us "just wanting something good to eat and in the mood for Q" types, too.)

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