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John Brown Smokehouse in Long Island City to Close, Owner Puts it Down to ‘Pandemic’ and ‘Idiot Politicians’

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Aug. 19, 2020 By Christian Murray

The owner of John Brown Smokehouse is closing his Long Island City restaurant citing the pandemic and “idiot politicians” as the reason.

Josh Bowen, who opened the restaurant at 10-43 44th Dr. eight years ago, said his lease had come to an end and that it made little sense to renew it at a time when there is so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

The venue, best known for its traditional sweet and smoky style barbecue, has yet to close and he will be making announcement as to a closing date soon.

Bowen said that he will convert his second restaurant—Mothership Meat Company located at 27-20 40th Ave. in Dutch Kills – into a John Brown Smokehouse. The 40th Avenue venue, he said, is more geared toward outdoor dining, with a garden that can seat 100 people in normal times.

Bowen said that it had become difficult to operate on 44th Drive and called the strip “a ghost town.” Earlier this month LIC Market, another restaurant on 44th Drive, closed.

Josh Bowen at Mothership Meat Company (Photo: Courtesy of Mothership Meat Company)

“Business has become untenable at our present location and it’s time to move on,” Bowen wrote in a social media post Tuesday.

“It is bittersweet to leave 44th Dr but between COVID and our idiot local politicians, nothing will ever flourish there for decades,” Bowen wrote, referring to the elected officials who opposed the Amazon HQ2 development—after initially calling for it to come to Long Island City.

Bowen, a fierce advocate for the Amazon deal, got into a public spat on twitter with local elected officials over their change of heart. He said that these spats, however, didn’t lead to a decline in business.

“It didn’t put a dent in business because everyone hates these politicians,” Bowen claimed.

Bowen, however, said that their anti-business rhetoric has put a damper on the growth of 44th Drive.

“We thought the neighborhood would grow around us, and it was, until the worst political regime in modern memory started doing things other than cashing donor checks,” Bowen wrote.

Bowen, however, said that he is still all-in on New York City and rejects those rooting against the Big Apple.

“We will stay and we will fight,” he wrote. “NYC isn’t a playground or a political experiment for us. It is our home….and we will do what real NYers do, go to work.”

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John B.

I went to Mothership once and was seriously let down by how dull & expensive everything was (despite having a very nice & large outdoor space). Now it makes perfect sense that Bowen is the owner. JB has been going downhill with quality each time I visited before giving up, and, along with the owner’s blatant disrespect for others and outlandish behavior in the public eye, I guess we’ll see how the updated location fares. And Astoria / LIC continue to search for an above average BBQ place (Pig Beach…you there?)

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Carbie Barbie

Too bad so sad. We need more vegan restaurants anyways. It’s better for the environment.

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