So beginning Saturday, January 26, the Leonards are relaunching their smokehouse as AJ's Pit Bar-B-Q at 2180 South Delaware Street, with expanded hours, whiskey, craft beer on tap, two barrel-aged cocktails and a few menu surprises.
Au Feu, a quick-service counter selling Montreal-style brisket and poutine inside Zeppelin Station, and the Budlong Hot Chicken, which sells Nashville-style hot chicken sandwiches out of a food truck (although there are five brick-and-mortar locations in Chicago). Barbecue was served only on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to when all the meats sold out (usually within two or three hours), and Sundays were added later in 2018.
Loyal fans were clamoring for more, but Jared also sensed confusion from potential customers. So he and Amanda decided to start 2019 with a bang — and the name change. Jared brought in his faithful Bewley cabinet smoker (which burns whole logs of Texas post oak) from Chicago to replace a smaller unit he'd been using, while Amanda fixed up the space with a homey foyer (which will accommodate customers waiting in line on cold Denver days), a small bar, indoor picnic tables and side rooms for private parties.
AJ's will be open daily at 11 a.m. until all the meats sell out, but with the increased smoking capacity (there's also a monstrous Camelback smoker mounted on the bed of a vintage farm truck out front), that should be at least 9 p.m. or so, instead of mid-afternoon. Amanda and Jared plan on introducing Barbecue 101 classes in the near future and will also be adding a patio this spring.
AJ's Pit Bar-B-Q is located across the street from the Evans light rail station, just a couple of blocks off the intersection of South Broadway and West Evans Avenue. For more information, see the restaurant's Facebook page.