All Hail The “Lord Of The Brisket” And His Hog Trotters
By The BaldOne
What do you do for an encore after you have built three separate restaurants from the ground up? The obvious answer is that you open another restaurant, one that will fill a particular void on the Salem scene. Smokin’ Betty’s BBQ & Bar at 94 Lafayette Street (the old Strega and Red Lulu spot) plans to fill that void. They will serve southern cuisine to include smoked meats, BBQ, and vegetarian selections, not as a part of their menu, but as their entire menu.
Steve Feldman and Marie Feldmannova first opened Gulu-Gulu Cafe in Lynn. A couple of years later they decided that Salem was a good location for a second Gulu. The Lappin Park spot worked out so well that they they closed the successful Lynn location to concentrate their efforts in Salem. It is now a popular and busy spot in our downtown.
Flying Saucer Pizza Company was their next endeavor. It helped that the location, which had been another, but failed pizza operation was right next door. Since then Flying Saucer, with a full liquor license has become a popular stop for the pizza crowd.
We recently sat down to speak with Steve, his Executive Chef Todd Bekesha, who will hereafter be known as the “Lord of the Brisket,” and General Manager Erin Oliver.
When we asked Steve why he decided on a southern place he did not hesitate at all to answer. “Marie and I have been throwing it around for years. There is an opportunity to fill a void here in Salem and the north shore. When Redbones backed out of a deal for this space we stepped up. A couple of years ago we would not have considered this space. The new businesses in the the area have made it into an exciting opportunity. It is a beautiful, built-out space with good bones.”
Todd, the “Lord of the Brisket” has extensive local ties and experience. He has worked at various Salem and north shore restaurants. More importantly, he cooked in New Orleans for six years where he learned classic French, Southern, and traditional New Orleans cuisine.
“The food, culture, and people of New Orleans always intrigued me” Todd told us. “ Smokin’ Betty’s will bring some southern culture and cooking mixed in with some of what we do here in New England. It will be full frontal meats and spices and derivative of southern culture and cuisine. We will use locally produced ingredients and products whenever we can.”
As General manager Erin brings 6 years of experience at Gulu-Gulu where she started as a prep cook. Over the years she worked all of the house positions and then one day, in a “moment of crisis” stepped up and showed some management mettle. With a strong, but pleasant and engaging personality and with her bones made at Gulu, she will be a welcoming presence on the floor.
“I am excited” says Erin. “We all have similar ideas and mentalities and want to provide a place for Salem families to gather and flourish.”
Work on Smokin’ Betty’s is slated to begin after the New Year with a projected opening sometime in April. There will be 100 seats, and they expect to have around 25 employees.
We here at Salem Food Digest are quite excited about this. There are some BBQ places on the north shore, but this concept here in Salem, with an intention as stated by the “Lord of the Brisket” to bring to us a part of “southern cuisine like hog trotters, and other exciting items that are not typically seen in this part of the country” has our attention.
We will share more information, and some photos of the build out as things progress.