For real this time: Brick's Smoked Meats is planning to open next month. Just not in the spot we originally thought.
Last spring, Brick's mastermind Mark Gabrick, who built a sizable downtown farmers' market following after opening his Brick's Barbeque booth in late 2013, announced that after months of searching, he had settled on a location in Southside Village for his first sit-down eatery. But that deal fell through, and Gabrick, along with his business partners Dick Rivera and Laura Martin, went back to the drawing board. What they came up with instead is a 152-seat lunch-and-dinner restaurant on the ground floor of Sarasota's State Street parking garage.
The new concept blends quick counter service and table delivery, with a full bar focused on bourbons and tequilas and beer, wine and a house margarita on tap. Long communal tables will eventually stretch out below drooping strings of lights. Windmills serve as ceiling fans. The limestone details come from Texas and a giant flag from the Lone Star State is planned for the restaurant's east wall.
All well and good. But the true star of the operation can be found behind the service counter. Fire-engine red, the Brick's J&R Oyler Pit smoker stands almost two stories tall. Stuffed with burning wood, it can smoke up to 1,800 pounds of beef at once, and will be trusted to produce Gabrick's exceptional brisket. Other proteins include pulled pork, house-recipe sausages, lightly smoked turkey and grilled chicken—meaty options buttressed by sandwiches, tacos and even salads. The idea is pay homage to the food of central Texas, referencing the smoked meat traditions of Central European immigrants and the influence of Mexican cooking.
Gabrick is serving as pitmaster, while Keith Doherty is the chef and Steven Warren is the general manager. The restaurant is currently hiring and is eying an opening date next month, but the space is still a construction site, with raw cement floors, unwrapped kitchen equipment and unfinished bathrooms. It's taken a bit longer than I thought for a Brick's sit-down to come to life, but the buzz of the buffer shining up the metal bar is proof that it's really happening this time. I guess I can wait a little bit longer, even if I don't want to.