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Friday, December 20, 2019

The Crust Pizza Team Will Open Proof Bar-BQ and Cocktails In Their Tremont Building in Early 2020

Posted By on Fri, Dec 20, 2019 at 9:31 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DOUG TRATTNER
  • Photo by Doug Trattner

Over the past three years, the former Komorowski Funeral Home building on Professor Avenue has transitioned from a place of bereavement to a warren of joyful activity. On the top floor is Dave Ferrante’s inviting neighborhood bookshop Visible Voice, which reopened in its attractive new home following a four-year break. The main floor is home to Crust, which was also completely reshaped and reborn after relocating from its original home on Kenilworth. Next came the roomy sidewalk patio, allowing pizza patrons to enjoy their pies and pints al fresco.

The latest phase of the building’s evolution has been underway for months, as Crust owner Mike Griffin readies the lower level for public consumption. When it opens in January or February, Proof Bar-BQ and Cocktails will bring Southern and Texas-style barbecue to Tremont.

“We always liked the idea of barbecue, because we looked at Tremont and asked ourselves what’s missing and what does it need,” explains Griffin.

Work on Proof actually began three years ago, when construction on the 125-year-old building began. Knowing that every inch counts, management had the foresight to dig out the basement in the earliest stages of work in order to make the space serviceable down the road. More recently, masons covered the bland concrete interior walls with real brick. A quartz-topped bar is being fabricated, along with a small kitchen and unisex restroom. Honey-toned tongue-and-groove wood will blanket the ceiling. Banquettes will wrap around the room. And warm lighting will tie it all together.
click to enlarge COURTESY CRUST
  • Courtesy Crust

As for the food, Griffin has been working for months with consulting chef Pete Joyce to iron out a menu. The crew regularly fires up the Southern Pride smoker at Crust’s downtown kitchen to perfect recipes for brisket, pork, ribs, chicken and turkey.

“I love drinks and cocktails and all that’s going to be great, but I’m always so focused on the food end of things,” reports Griffin.

Guests at the 55-seat restaurant will enjoy craft barbecue, beer and cocktails. Starters and snacks might include chips and queso, loaded BBQ nachos, brisket mac and cheese, Frito pie and a barbecue charcuterie board outfitted with smoked mozzarella, smoked cheddar, smoked portabellos, pulled pork, sliced brisket, smoked turkey breast and pork rinds.

“It kind of hits everything we’re doing without having to purchase an entire meal of one or the other,” Griffin says of the sampler platter.

Meats, smoked over fruit woods like apple and cherry, will be sold by the half and full pound. They will also appear in sandwiches and tacos, more wallet-friendly options than the big plates. Specials like giant beef ribs, burnt ends and smoked sausage will appear on weekends or more frequently. Housemade sauces likely will include takes on those from Texas, Kansas City, the Carolinas and the house cherry-bourbon.

Barbecue will make its way to the bar in the form of creative craft cocktails. Diners can look forward to drinks like a smoked-orange old fashioned or smoky bacon Manhattan. A dozen draft beer lines extend to the brand new walk-in cooler out back.

Speaking of out back … This final phase of the property’s ambitious transformation also is well under way. A massive new concrete pad will be home to a 100-seat patio with bar and small outdoor kitchen, which is where the closet-size Southern Pride will live. Gas lines run to outdoor heaters and a fence will be adorned with an abundance of plants.

The patio is a natural extension from the rear of Crust more so than Proof, which enjoys its own street-side front door. That said, diners likely will be able to order food from both spots, but perhaps from a limited menu. Down the road, weekend brunch, live music and projection-screened sporting events might be added to the mix.
click to enlarge PHOTO BY DOUG TRATTNER
  • Photo by Doug Trattner

From Day 1, the goal has always been to squeeze as much life out of that old funeral home as possible, says Griffin.

“It’s like its own ecosystem,” he says. “Hopefully, the whole building just flows: the bookstore, Crust, Proof, the patio … four different spaces, all in one.”

When Proof opens in January or February, it will be dinner-only with no reservations.

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