Well, that didn’t last long.
StormKing BBQ, the exceptional barbecue restaurant created by Black Sheep Pizza owner Jordan Smith, went dark on Saturday, a few weeks shy of its first birthday.
“I’ve loved barbecue my whole life, ever since I was a kid,” said Smith. “I didn’t think we had great barbecue here [in the Twin Cities], so I thought, ‘Maybe it’s time.’ But I guess it wasn’t.”
Smith didn’t pull any punches when he announced the closure on social media.
“Due to unpopular demand, StormKing Barbecue is closed,” he wrote on Twitter. “We laughed, we cried and we smoked our hearts out but sadly, it wasn’t enough to keep the lights on.”
The 26-seat, counter-service spot was located next door to Smith’s Black Sheep outlet on Eat Street, at Nicollet Av. and 26th St. It featured meticulously prepared brisket, pulled pork, spare ribs and chicken (plus a host of appropriate sides, including a glorious potato salad), all done in the Texas-style barbecue that Smith has come to love -- and obsess over -- during countless barbecue-eating trips to the Lone Star State.
“People loved it,” said Smith. “We got great feedback (including this critic’s pick as one the six best new restaurants that opened in the first half of 2017). But, for whatever reason, it didn’t work. Still, I couldn’t not do it, do you know what I mean?”
At this early date, Smith doesn’t have any plans for the space.
“We own it, so that’s a good thing,” he said.
The handwriting was on the wall when Smith saw that, over a four-week period, the North Loop branch of Black Sheep Pizza had accrued 10 times StormKing's sales.About six weeks ago, Smith decided to regroup, dropping the restaurant’s daily dinner service to a once-a-week event, opening on Saturdays only. But sales figures continued their descent.
“We were killing ourselves, putting all of our resources into StormKing, and that just wasn’t making any sense,” he said. “This isn’t charity work, this is our livelihood. I think I got too romantic about it.”