The sweet and smoky aroma of slow-cooked barbecue ribs, brisket and chicken soon may be filling the air as a restaurant featuring such delicacies is under development at Basin and Church streets.
Benjamin Stopper, a local real estate developer, who bought the Lending Textiles building at 300 Church St., confirmed he is in the process of transforming the building, which he bought three years ago, into the rustic rib joint.
Once that happens, Bradi Lovecchio and Casey Stopper, Stopper's daughters, will take over the management responsibilities.
This site at the corner of Basin and Church streets will be home to a wood-fired barbecue restaurant cooking ribs, brisket and chicken. It once was a textiles plant. The restaurant’s developers, Benjamin Stopper and his daughters Casey Stopper and Bradi Lovecchio, say they visited barbecue restaurants up and down the East Coast to fine-tune their concept.
The trio visited barbecue masters around the East Coast to perfect their product that will be be slow-cooked in outdoor smokers.
While their restaurant has yet to be named, it has been approved by the city's Planning Commission. The next step will be to take preliminary plans and sketches before City Council for their consideration, Stopper said. That may happen soon, he added.
Asked about the restaurant's outside appeal, he replied, "We want it to have a rustic look and taste to come back to - similar to the Dinosaur Barbecue Restaurant we visited in upstate New York."
Imagine the slow-cooking of beef, pork and chicken - which often requires 10 to 12 hours to do right - on low heat, beneath wood-fired outdoor smokers - all within view of the customers eager to try it, he said.
The restaurant entrance will be off Basin and Church streets. "I want people to walk into the restaurant and walk by the smokers," Stopper said. "We're going to try to find used brick to complete the restaurant's front wall and will take off paint off the existing brick for other portions," he said.
The business also will add to the county employment rolls.
"The kind of staff necessary will probably require 30 to 40 people," he said.
Stopper, who owns Benji's Restaurant on Washington Boulevard, said he always has wanted to introduce barbecue ribs but now he can enable his daughters to have that option.
Bradi is a homemaker and Casey operates Benji's, and the Benjamin Banquet room and The Senate Bar and Grill, he said.
This month, workers continue to improve on the razed portion of the building. Another section will be converted into a landscaped parking lot.
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana stopped by the Sun-Gazette Friday and said he is encouraged by the tax-producing properties locating near Basin Street in the Central Business District, such as Panera Bread, which is next door to the planned restaurant.