Wintertime can be tough on businesses in Port Jeff.
Sure, the parking situation is much better but the foot traffic drops in the off-season and the cold keeps locals close to home.
If you were wondering why Smoke Shack Blues Barbecue recently closed its doors, chef and co-owner Jonathan Levine wants to clear things up — once and for all.
“The answer is yes, we are up for sale,” he told GreaterPortJeff by phone from the restaurant Thursday.
Though it’s on the block, the owners don’t really expect to be going anywhere anytime soon. The plan is to re-open as the warmer days approach.
In the meantime, Levine and the team are exploring the option of selling the business to someone else who wants to run it as a barbecue joint while they scout other towns on Long Island to open another location.
Levine cited the seasonality in Port Jefferson Village as one reason ownership put the business up for sale.
“We like it here,” he said. “Nine months of the year we like it. The other three months, not so much.”
According to Levine, the restaurant had a good summer and that allowed them to close down when business got slow so they could prepare for the next season.
As of now, Smoke Shack Blues Barbecue is still open for catering through the winter, and he said they have parties booked for next week when most local schools are on winter break.
“Most likely we’re not going anywhere,” he said. “We have lots of return customers and we’re definitely excited for this year.”
Levine was also busy preparing the restaurant to reopen sometime at the end of the month, depending on the weather.
The menu will still feature some fan favorites, like the pastrami, Levine said.
“As soon as we have a date we will announce it,” he said.
Levine said Smoke Shack will post updates to the Instagram account.
An online listing for the sale shows the business is secured by a long-term lease at $5,100 per month. Annual revenue is listed as $780,000 with owner/operator earnings of $150,000.
Other features of the business include a liquor license and flexible design. The site is listed at 2,000 square feet. A draw for a new owner is the opportunity take on the existing business or replace it with a new concept.
So there is no guarantee that the restaurant will retain its barbecue theme.
A real estate agent who answered a phone call this week confirmed the owners were selling the business with an in-place lease of eight years and a five-year option at the end.
The owners have also put a lot of thought into where they might open another location.
While not committing to specific towns, Levine said they have an idea about the ideal location: one without a competing barbecue restaurant, a mix of residential and business districts, and support for year-round traffic.
Levine said their options are open.
“There are so few good barbecue restaurants on Long Island,” he said.
Top: Jonathan Levine at Smoke Shack Blues Barbecue. (Credit: Facebook)