By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,495)
“It’s the calm before the storm,” said Garry Bowcott, of the lull before the opening of the Salvage Barbeque later this month. Salvage Barbeque, 919 Congress Street, is the third restaurant owned by the well-liked Jay Villani. And both Villani and Bowcott are confident it will be open by Labor Day and quite likely next week. Bowcott, who will manage Salvage for the immediate future at least, graciously took time during a lull to talk to mhn.com about the progress of the 100 seat venue near Maine Medical Center on the west end of Portland.
Last October, Villani told mhn.com that he was planning to open this new venue this spring. He also owns Local 188, Sonny’s, is a partner in Bunker Brewing Co. and will be opening, Ideal Bakery, 742 Congress Street, at a later date. The location of Salvage is the site of the former Portland Architectural Salvage building, hence the name.
The menu has not been set yet, although Villani and his chefs are close. Yesterday Villani and his staff were exchanging ideas and tasting samples of what might and what might not be on the menu. Trent Harris, a baker for Villani for ten years, brought in a delicious cornbread which will probably make the menu cut. Others were sampling spare ribs just cooked on the smoker for flavor and tenderness. Villani, a sculptor, put in several months building the smoker at a friend’s home up in Durham; it took 2 l/2 months to construct. Yesterday was an exciting opportunity for a demonstration of its capabilities for staff who’d gathered for that purpose as well.
Bowcott, who is manager of Local 188 and an overseer at Sonny’s, said the staff took two southern tours of barbeque restaurants; one was last fall in North Carolina and the other in Texas this spring. All together they visited eighteen sites. “We learned that the best barbeque comes from an outside pit,” said Bowcott. “Indoor smokers don’t give the same flavor and texture. All the best places in Texas had outdoor pits.” There will be a full bar serving all local beers and a few domestic bottles.
Hours and days of operation are not yet decided, although it’s likely Salvage will be open six days a week.