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Smoke BBQ in Delray Beach closes, Fort Lauderdale location remains open

Smoke BBQ has closed its original Delray Beach location, co-owner Scott Kennedy says, but the Fort Lauderdale location of the Texas-style barbecue restaurant remains open, with its well-regarded ribs, pulled pork and smoked pastrami in “zero danger” of going anywhere.

Kennedy cited rising rent and expenses and slow sales for the shuttering of the Delray location at 8 East Atlantic Ave.

In a Monday Facebook post on the Delray RAW group page, Kennedy wrote, “It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing the closing of Smoke BBQ Delray Beach effective immediately. I want to thank you all for the wonderful support we have received over the years … I would also like to thank the employees who gave [their] all for us day in and day out ... We hope to announce a new Delray Beach location in the near future.”

Kennedy told me, “We have the right concept in Fort Lauderdale and we will just keep trucking.”

Soon after Smoke BBQ opened in Delray in summer 2014, its ribs were proclaimed “best in South Florida” by former SouthFlorida.com and Sun Sentinel dining critic John Tanasychuk. But the barbecue concept never fully meshed with the setting, a former Asian supper club with full bar known as Union that Kennedy and partner Stephen Chin ran for three years before converting to Smoke.

The Fort Lauderdale Smoke BBQ, a smaller restaurant that opened in December 2015 near Galt Ocean Mile, is more in line with a traditional barbecue joint. It features communal picnic tables, paper towels and cold bottled beer. Last year, Smoke Fort Lauderdale began offering smoked pastrami sandwiches, which I called on par with those found at New York’s famed Katz’s Delicatessen.

Smoke Fort Lauderdale had its own drama last year, when a business dispute landed in court and a partner who controlled the lease attempted to evict Kennedy and Chin. The feuding factions resolved their issues through mediation and Smoke finalized a new long-term lease.

Besides looking for a new home in Delray, Kennedy says Smoke is exploring a possible downtown Fort Lauderdale location.

mmayo@southflorida.com, 954-356-4508. Follow my food adventures on Instagram: @mikemayoeats. Sign up for my weekly dining newsletter at SouthFlorida.com/EatBeatMail.

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