American barbecue may take hours to smoke, but restauranteur Tom Lau thinks it should be served quick. Lau is opening Butcher’s Smokehouse, a fast-casual barbecue restaurant at 1221 Walnut Street with a setup he compares to Chipotle, in what was previously pizza and sandwich shop Pandora’s. He plans to start serving on Tuesday, July 9.
The menu is a mix of Southern barbecue styles, with plates like Texas brisket, St. Louis ribs, jalapeño-cheddar sausage, fried catfish, and what Lau is calling Philly BBQ Chicken. The meats are sold on their own, as sandwiches or tacos, or in combo platters that come with sides — cornbread, mac and cheese, jambalaya, and the like — and iced tea. (Scroll down for the full menu.)
Guiding the kitchen is chef Bruce Lim, who’s been cooking in Philly for a long time — he was at the Fountain at the Four Seasons hotel in the ’80s before opening the now-closed Ciboulette.
Butcher’s has 30 seats, but Lau is envisioning it as more of a takeout venue, along the lines of his other restaurants: He owns franchise locations of Halal Guys, Blaze Pizza, and Auntie Anne’s in New York.
When it’s up and running on July 9, Butcher’s hours will be Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight.
Lau says he’s also working on a Cajun seafood restaurant nearby, called Crab Nola. That one is shooting for an October opening.