Is there room in the neighborhood for Steve Hanson?Photo: Patrick McMullanLast month we reported on the possibility of a new B.R. Guest BBQ restaurant on Park Avenue South, and B.R. Guest officially pooh-poohed the idea. But we trust our BBQ world sources, and we have a lot of them, so today, we’ve got the details. The place will in fact be in the old Barça 18 space, as we predicted, and will be called Wildwood BBQ. David Rockwell will do the interior, which will include a 75-foot-long bar and 200 seats. Our take? Though there’s no doubt that B.R. Guest group knows how to run a restaurant, barbecue is not just another "concept," and corporate restaurants, with their tight financial controls, rarely produce great meat. And it’s an odd place to put it, given that three of the best barbecue restaurants in New York are in the Madison Square Park–Flatiron area, in RUB, Hill Country, and Blue Smoke.
The fact that we know who the designer is and not who the pitmaster is does not bode well for the enterprise, which aims to insert itself into an already saturated market. On the other hand, that big bar will sell a lot of drinks to office workers, even if we and the other BBQ geeks don’t approve of the ribs and brisket. So B.R. Guest founder Stephen Hanson will probably get the last laugh, as he usually does.