Smokey's Basement BBQ owner Fred Laud (left) and employee Amy Schuch serve barbeque samples to Crown Point residents Pamela Rhodes and Lisa Hargreaves at the restaurants recent grand opening. | Sue Ellen Ross/For Sun-Times Media
IF YOU GO
Smokey’s Basement BBQ
220 S. Main St., Crown Point
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Opening a new business in today’s tough economy can be a daunting task, especially when a location is hard to find.
But Fred Laud is optimistic that his new venture, Smokey’s Basement BBQ, will thrive and bring in people from many areas.
“There isn’t another restaurant like this in Crown Point,” he said. “Our menu is short and simple — just quality barbecue.”
Although there was a soft opening last November, the grand opening took place this month.
“We heard about this place before Christmas and decided to stop in for this grand opening,” said Elaine Fairmont of Chicago. “I work in the area and my office is always looking for something different for lunch — this place is definitely different than the same old, same old.”
Located in the former boiler room in the basement of the Halls of Justice on Main Street (the old criminal courts building), the eatery seats 60, with an adjoining banquet room adding another 40-50 chairs.
In the short time it’s been in operation, customers have enjoyed the dinning room, full-service bar serving craft liquors and beers, and banquet room.
Laud’s son Eric Laud developed the rub used on the meats and also manages the new restaurant, which employs 10 servers and has a very short menu.
Crown Point resident Rachael DeBoer, for one, enjoys that fact.
“I am a big barbeque fan, but I like that I’m not overwhelmed with too many choices on their menu,” she said. “I live close by, so it’s great that they have delivery too.”
The basement area, which previously housed a pizza restaurant, didn’t need major renovation, only re-painting and new tables and chairs.
Fred Laud said he definitely understands the challenge of restaurants competing for customers. But he points to his other Crown Point business, Carriage Court Pizza, which began in the 1980s and is currently located behind the Halls of Justice.
“We were able to grow that restaurant during a bad economy, and we can do that here also.”
The menu at Smokey’s Basement BBQ includes rib dinners and chicken, pork, brisket and brats served as both sandwiches and platters. Seven side dishes, including macaroni and cheese, chili with brisket, and baked beans, are available. Two salad choices and a children’s menu also are listed, as well as rib dinners and meat by the pound.
The restaurant has its own signature rub, and sauces are not added during preparation. Customers will find various types of sauces on their dining table, ranging from Zesty Tomato to Honey Bourbon with much in between.
Carry out, delivery and catering are available.