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Beyond Food and Beverage

Beyond Food and Beverage

Barbecue-focused restaurants raise the fun factor

While no two barbecue restaurants are exactly the same, they all share one thing in common: a welcoming, unpretentious atmosphere. From casual dress codes that call for T-shirt and jeans to family-style food that has guests licking their fingers between bites, it’s about as relaxed as sit-down dining can get. It’s no surprise, then, that they’re the perfect setting for all manner of games, diversions and entertainment. Here, we highlight four ways successful barbecue joints raise the fun factor for guests as they eat and drink their way through the menu.

Kick up the jams

Diners can accompany their award-winning barbecue with free live music every weekend at Brooklyn-based Hometown Bar-B-Que. The Southern staples of country and blues music are well represented, of course, but various performers from NYC and beyond take the stage in a spacious alcove adjacent to their main dining room. The room comes complete with a full bar, so guests don’t have to miss a beat going for another round.

Let the games begin

There’s nothing like getting a little competition going before, or after, a good meal. At Brother Jimmy’s in National Harbor, Md., Skee Ball provides a friendly battleground for high-rollers, with two lanes in case things get heated. And at the Alamo Texas Bar-B-Cue & Tequila Bar in Brookline, N.H., guests can get their slide on at a handsome wooden shuffleboard table.

Take it outside

Barbecue restaurants with outdoor space reap the benefits when the weather’s sunny. At Brooklyn’s Pig Beach, co-owner Shane McBride says his patio is a huge draw, with more than 2,000 guests coming through on busiest nights. And it’s not just people enjoying the fresh air, it’s dogs as well. “The biggest draw for the outside part is that we’re pretty dog-friendly,” McBride says. “There’s quite a few dogs here when it’s a nice day.” The second-biggest draw: more games. “We have six cornhole sets throughout the outside space—that’s our game,” he adds.

Think of the children

When it comes to kids, boredom is never on the menu at Chicago’s Baobab BBQ. A parent himself, owner Andrew Dunlop makes sure the little ones are entertained, providing them with fun things to do at the table. “We are very focused on kids here, so we make activity baskets for them,” he explains. “There are baskets kids can pick up and take to the tables that include crosswords, coloring pages and a couple of games.”

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