Last March, Chicago restaurateur Jared Leonard and his wife, Amanda, opened a Montreal smoked meats stall, Au Feu, in Denver’s Zeppelin Station. A few short months later, the couple opened a local food truck version of their popular Nashville hot chicken restaurant, The Budlong, which has five Chicago locations. Then they created BBQ Supply Co., which served Texas barbecue on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to sell-out, adding Sundays in later.
They’ve been busy.
To kick off 2019, the couple has rebranded BBQ Supply Co. to be a catch-all for their concepts. They’ve renamed the space at 2180 South Delaware Street in the Overland neighborhood — AJ’s Pit Bar-B-Q — and expanded operating hours to seven days a week.
The menu has also expanded with the addition of Leonard’s 1,000-pound Camelback smoker and a cabinet smoker that burns whole logs of Texas Post oak wood. Leonard smokes his meats for at least 10 hours, and the menu includes beef ribs, Wagyu pastrami and brisket, pulled pork, dry-rub ribs, smoked turkey, sausage, and chicken; as well as an assortment of sides like truffle mac and cheese, biscuits, cornbread, pit beans, slaw, and ham-hock braised collards.
Fans of the now-shuttered Budlong truck will be glad to know that its signature hot chicken sandwich with Mississippi comeback sauce will also be on the menu. Along with the new food items, AJ’s Pit has added booze to its ‘que offerings. There will be five changing local craft beers on tap, two barrel-aged cocktails, and an assortment of whiskeys.
Amanda Leonard has transformed what was once a drab and empty industrial catering kitchen into a homey eatery. The entryway, decorated with vintage family photos, a pot-bellied stove, and cowhides, has the welcoming feel of (parts of) Texas. The main dining room features four large picnic tables with community-style seating, though the focus is the formidable smoker and wood butcher’s block cutting station. A chalkboard menu graces one wall and a vintage neon sign the other (flanked by a turntable belting out vinyl favorites of all genres). Come spring, a backyard-patio is planned. For now, two smaller dining spaces sit at the front of the building, designated for private events and gatherings.
Status: AJ’s Pit Bar-B-Q will open daily at 11 a.m. and everything will be sold by the pound until it is sold out (9 p.m. is the anticipated time for most evenings). Leonard plans to begin offering BBQ 101 classes soon, and there is a full catering menu available for private events.