By Amisha Kohli
Get ready for some un-grill-ievable food — Jeff Rogers is bringing the flavors of Southern barbecue to the village of Baldwinsville, only a block away from his successful restaurant Angry Garlic.
After several months of construction, Angry Smokehouse is nearly ready to open, replacing the former Lock 24 restaurant on Water Street. Rogers said in early September that the opening is only weeks away.
In June, Rogers went on a barbecue road trip, touring restaurants across Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina. Rogers set out to learn more about barbecue, learning traditional techniques from pitmasters and immersing himself in all things barbecue for several weeks. From dawn to dusk, Rogers spent time with 11 different pitmasters, soaking in their knowledge to bring real Southern barbecue to New York.
“I didn’t go to a lot of sit-down restaurants. Most places I went to were trailers with a gigantic smoke pit behind them,” Rogers said. “That’s where I wanted to go. That’s who I wanted to work with. … The fifth-generation owners that have these trailers that have been on a plot of land literally for a hundred years. That’s where I wanted to learn. So that’s where I went.”
Rogers biggest takeaway from his travels is that for 30 years, he has been barbecuing wrong.
“The first thing I did when I got home was rip up the menu that I wrote. I literally tore it up. I was like, ‘nope, changing the whole menu,’” Rogers said. “It’s not gonna be a huge menu, but it’s gonna be real authentic Midwest and Southern barbecue.”
With the success of Angry Garlic, Rogers admitted he is nervous about the bar that is set for the smokehouse. Like any other new venture, Rogers knows there will be several hiccups, as there were when he opened Angry Garlic three years ago. Nonetheless, he is hopeful that the community will be as embracing and forgiving as it was then. Community members are already enthusiastic about the restaurant’s opening, flooding the restaurant’s Facebook with hundreds of comments of support, excitement and well wishes.
“I’m just thankful that everyone’s been so kind, it’s what I instill in my staff. We literally live by the words humble and kind. That’s how we’ve talked to each other and that’s how we talk to our guests, and the community has been so kind. It’s amazing. Really is.”
Rogers said the restaurant is back on course after dealing with several supply chain challenges that delayed the reconstruction of the facility, which was formerly Lock 24 on Water Street in Baldwinsville. With the interior now nearly finished and custom-built smokers installed, Rogers can see the finish line ahead.
Salt City Millworks built the tables, and the light fixtures over the bar are made from repurposed bourbon bottles. Rogers is building additional décor elements out of staves — the aged slats of oak used to make bourbon barrels.
“If you go up close to it, you can still smell the charring,” he said.
According to Rogers, the inside of the restaurant will have a heavy blues and Southern rock theme to it. Rogers said he has about 200 posters to hang on the walls, wanting guests to be able to see unique and historical images of different musicians, smokehouses and smokers everywhere they look.
Outside, the deck will be able to seat 90 people, and Rogers purchased a nearby grassy area to install fire pit seating as well.
“I love the opportunity to employ more people. With this place, especially with the outside seating, we’ll probably employ 45 people or so. That’s exciting to me, to be able to say that we take care of 45 people and make sure that financially and with their jobs, they’re happy and they’re secure, you know?”
Keep an eye on the Angry Smokehouse facebook page for updates on the grand opening.