After three-and-a-half years on Atlanta’s westside, DAS BBQ is opening a second location—this time, in Grant Park. The counter-service restaurant is known for is Texas- and Georgia-style barrel-smoked meats and sides, such as beef brisket and creamed corn. Owner and pitmaster Stephen Franklin says the new restaurant, formerly home to the Harp (350 Memorial Drive Southeast), will open between late October and mid-December.
“From day one, we had a plan for Atlanta. That plan had two locations and a commissary kitchen,” Franklin says.
But opening a new restaurant during a pandemic—at a time when many businesses are struggling to keep their doors open—may come as a surprise to many. We spoke with Franklin to learn how he’s navigating the current economic climate and what his plans are for the new DAS location.
Why did you decide to open a new restaurant in such an unpredictable time?
We were going to do it eventually anyway. It’s a little scary, but there’s a lot of business out there. We’ve been blessed to do really strong throughout the COVID situation. The team has pivoted, and we didn’t have to let anyone go. We actually hired.
How did you pivot?
We scaled back and closed Mondays and Tuesdays to stay healthy as we can. Then we decided to try delivery/catering in neighborhoods. We thought, Let’s ice cream truck this thing. We collect pre-orders in specific neighborhoods and then vans come deliver. By being out and about, we got to connect with a lot of people who had never been to DAS BBQ. Now, we service 50 neighborhoods. These vans made up for 70-80 percent of the missing revenue.
We also got into Feeding the Frontlines through Emory. We could put together 400 meals in one hour and 15 minutes.
Let’s talk about the new location. What’s on the menu?
It’ll be exactly the same food with some floating items. At Monday Night Brewing—we have permanent outpost there—we do a beer-cheese sauce using their beer. It sells wonderfully. We also do Impossible brats there. But on Collier, no one is buying either of those. We may try them on Memorial, or some other items.
We’ll also have designated bar space and will serve liquor. (At Collier, we only have beer and wine.) We’ll have a basic liquor cabinet and a few, fun signature cocktails.
What makes the Memorial Drive location a good choice for your customers?
Our partner at US Foods mentioned there was a space we had to look at. It just looked like a DAS BBQ. Having all the major work done—the grease traps in the ground, the hood, the brand-new HVAC, the certificate of occupancy already done—that’s a big deal. There’s so much greenspace right there. There’s a two-acre dog park adjacent to the property between us and Oakland Cemetery.
How is the space different from the Collier Road location?
There’s room for 50 seats inside and 75 outside [compared to] 42 and 36 at Collier. There’s more room to breathe; we can service more people. There’s four bathrooms and we’re even thinking about a handwashing station outside the bathroom with sensors for soaps.
The bigger space and larger kitchen allow us to be more efficient with the assembly and prep of food. At Collier Road, we’re very limited. [The space] was formerly a Pizza Hut. The Harp was a neighborhood transmission store. It has a higher roofline with poured concrete instead of shiplap. Both have black roofs. We’ll use the same Lamon Luther furniture.
Tell me about the patio.
We’ll have cornhole, ring toss, giant Jenga, and Connect Four. We’ll have a covered smoke bar at the smokehouse with about 10 seats, so people can interact with the pitmaster. We might have free seminars, such as how to smoke a brisket. We’re using repurposed/recycled commercial propane tanks to build our three barrel smokers.