Mitch Benjamin, founder of Meat Mitch barbecue sauces, rubs and meats, will now open a restaurant under the brand.
Meat Mitch Barbecue is taking a 6,000-square-foot space in Ranchmart North — east of Price Chopper in part of the former Seasonal Concepts space.
Benjamin had partnered with James Westphal and Mark Kelpe in Westport's Char Bar Smoked Meats & Amusements in 2014. Now Westphal and Kelpe, along with Scott Redler, co-founder and COO of Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, will partner with Benjamin in Meat Mitch. They hope to open the restaurant by the end of the year.
"This is the next step of the evolution of my brand. We are currently on retail shelves and online with meat, sauces, rubs," Benjamin said.
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Benjamin and his team have spent more than 15 years on the competitive barbecue circuit, perfecting their sauces and rubs.
Meat Mitch Barbecue restaurant will specialize in competition-style barbecue — ribs, burnt ends, brisket and "some surprises." Dine-in customers will order at the counter and then be served at their table. It also will have a full bar and separate to-go area.
"One thing we want to do is exhibition-style slicing and cutting," Benjamin said.
It also will have a retail section selling the brand's sauces, rubs, meats, barbecue popcorn (made by Velvet Creme Popcorn Co. in Westwood), T-shirts and sweatshirts.
Redler of Freddy's said: "It's very hard to find someone as passionate about barbecue as Mitch. His burnt ends are the best I've ever had so we are really excited about it."
In other Ranchmart North news, Duck Donuts, a Pennsylvania-based, made-to-order doughnut chain, plans an early summer opening at 3630 W. 95th St.
Customers order the vanilla cake doughnuts bare or with a coating (cinnamon sugar, powered sugar, glazed or icing), then can add as many toppings and drizzles as they want. Toppings choices include sprinkles, graham crackers, chopped peanuts, bacon pieces, shredded coconut and/or Oreos; drizzles include hot fudge, marshmallow, salted caramel, raspberry and/or blackberry.
Customers will be able to watch their donuts being made.
Duck Donuts also sells coffee, tea, doughnut breakfast sandwiches and more.
Founder Russ DiGilio was on vacation in Duck, N.C., when his family wanted warm, made-to-order doughnuts. When they couldn't find a place nearby, DiGilio decided to open one of his own in 2007. The first franchise location opened in 2013.
It now has more than 65 franchise locations and more than 130 under contract in 23 states.
A North Carolina chain that sells doughnuts and biscuits, Rise Biscuits Donuts, also is entering the market with plans to open five shops in the next five years in the metro and Lawrence.