March 25, 2015 By Michael Florio
With long lines and a big following, the Butcher Bar relocated into a much bigger space last October—next door to its original location.
The popular barbecue restaurant, now located at 37-10 30th Avenue, only had room for a little more than 20 seats at its previous location. With the move next door, the restaurant has space for 70 diners.
“We would fill up quickly [at the old location],” Matt Katakis, the owner said. “Now we can accommodate a lot more people.”
However, the big question that Katakis now faces is what to do with the original restaurant space that he still leases.
Presently that space—which has a backyard– is being used to host private parties.
However, Katakis said he is entertaining other ideas as to how to use it.
He said that he might open up the backyard area and offer a wide selection of beer—essentially turning the space into a beer garden.
“We are thinking of ripping out the four taps and installing 20 new ones,” he said.
“People love to enjoy a beer outside, and this would allow them to do so.”
If Katakis elects to go that route, he said the food options at the beer garden would be the same as Butcher Bar—best known for its smoked beef.
He is also evaluating whether to join the two spaces, to make one large restaurant.
He did add that while he plans to keep the original location, he would sell it if the price were right.
The larger space—as is—has allowed Katakis to open a full bar, where he now offers cocktails as well as wine and beer. The old venue was too small for a bar and he only had a beer and wine license.
“The bar has been a big attraction to customers,” Katakis said.
He has also received the approval needed to open a sidewalk café—featuring eight tables and 16 chairs.
With the move, the kitchen is bigger and he now has two large smokers instead of one. He has also added a fryer.
The menu has also undergone some changes.
French fries as well as smoked and fried wings have been added to the menu.
Some items, which were well known at the previous location, will be returning to the menu.
These include: “The Monster 50/50,” which consists of brisket and pulled pork combos, with onions, pickles, coleslaw, BBQ and habanero sauce; the “el Diablo” sandwich comprised of pulled pork; and “the animal” burger, which has cheddar cheese and butcher sauce.
The top selling items continue to be the smoked beef burnt ends as well as the macaroni & cheese, which Katakis claims to have brought to Astoria when he opened in 2011.
“Before Butcher Bar, the only place in Astoria you could get mac & cheese was KFC,” he said. “Now, everyone has it.”
There will be more changes coming to Butcher Bar, as Katakis said the restaurant is about to start serving brunch on weekends. The brunch menu will have the regular breakfast items—although with a barbecue twist.
“It will have the classic staples of brunch, but it will be built around barbecue,” he said. “It will be a very unique option for Astoria.”
Katakis, a lifelong Astoria resident, is looking to grow the Butcher Bar enterprise, and is likely to expand beyond the neighborhood. He said his next venue will be a 150 to 200 seat restaurant and will most likely be in the Tri-state area, although outside New York City.
“It is exciting, but there are still a lot of unknowns,” he said.
Katakis said that although he may be expanding out of the neighborhood, Astoria will always be his home.
“I love Astoria and I will continue to invest here,” he said.