Barbecue restaurant heats up downtown


Memphis Smokehouse will feature “Southern-type cuisine.” Photo via

A restaurant is planning to bring the tastes and smells of the South downtown.

Memphis Smokehouse is tentatively planning to open on Sept. 19, just before ArtPrize, in the former Donk’s Mexican Joint space, at 180 Monroe Ave. NW.

“I think the location is huge just because of where it’s at,” said Steve Elkowitz, owner, Memphis Smokehouse. “I think we’re going to have a good crowd down there to show the quality of our food. It’s going to be crazy. We’re preparing.”


The restaurant will be anchored by a Memphis-style barbecue, “which is done by dry rub and smoking the meat, instead of a bunch of sauces,” Elkowitz said.

The menu will feature “Southern-type cuisine,” such as Southern fried chicken, a blues char burger, baked beans, potato salad and cornbread.

“It’s all made from scratch,” Elkowitz said. “We are offering lunch and dinner to start, but are considering offering breakfast at some point."

Memphis Smokehouse will also deliver to customers in a half-mile radius of its downtown location.


Elkowitz spent about $30,000 renovating the approximately 1,097-square-foot space into a blues-themed restaurant, which will seat about 20 customers. He’s also looking to open an outdoor area.

Elkowitz added that he’s planning to hire about 15 employees for chef, cashier, hosting and delivery positions.

Catering roots

Memphis Smokehouse was born as an arm of Elkowitz’s catering company, Signature Catering, which he started in West Michigan back in 1990.

Positive reviews for Elkowitz’s meat, which he gets from Ebels Meat Market in Cadillac, were so strong that he finally decided to take a leap of faith and close down Signature Catering to solely focus on his new meat-based restaurant.

“We want to focus on doing this restaurant really good. We are bringing some employees over from the catering company," Elkowitz said.

"Our society is more sophisticated on food, so you can’t just pull something on them by dumping something out of a can anymore. I think that’s the need. It’s a need for another good restaurant downtown.”

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