The brisket sandwich and green beans side at Salt + Smoke.
Restaurateurs are known for taking chances. And so it was in mid-2014, when Tom Schmidt took five days to convert Nico in the Delmar Loop to a barbecue joint—at a time when the metro region was arguably saturated with barbecue joints.
Yet Salt + Smoke turned out to be a success. And the moment that the concept became viable, Schmidt began looking for a second location.
“We were looking to buy out west until we discovered the Mathew’s Kitchen building in Southampton,” he says, referring to the restaurant st 5625 Hampton that chef and co-owner Mathew Unger closed last June (it was Del Pietro's for 40 years prior to that).
Schmidt closed on the property today.
One of the selling points for Schmidt was the building’s second floor. “We could be doing a lot more private parties in the Loop if we had more space,” Schmidt says. “We have that kind of capacity here—two rooms and 100 seats worth.” The rest of the upstairs mezzanine “will be tied structurally and emotionally to the first floor," similar to Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Baileys' Range, and Small Batch. The result provides “a different perspective on the same vibe.”
Schmidt tells SLM that a lot of the success of the flagship is due to its pitmaster, Haley Riley. "No way we could have gotten to where we were without him," he says. And so, with the second location, Schmidt offered Riley partial ownership in both ventures.
The 5000 square foot South City building also allows the duo to expand the menu and spread its wings—though not with such items as “pig wings,” the braised, buffalo-sauced pork shanks that were once a house specialty at Mathew’s. “Let’s just say we weren’t planning on doing anything that off the wall,” said Schmidt, the co-creator of a Fried Jalapeño and Cheddar Bologna Sandwich and Burnt End Toasted Ravs.
Salt + Smoke will also continue to serve up its smoked staples, including arguably the best brisket in town, as well as pulled pork and smoked local trout—to say nothing of such sides as brisket chili and cheddar popovers.
Barring any delays, look for the new Salt + Smoke location to open by early June.