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Hard Knox BBQ takes the place of Vespa Kitchen, which closed last year.
Photo courtesy Hard Knox BBQ LLC
Hard Knox BBQ takes the place of Vespa Kitchen, which closed last year.

New barbecue restaurant opens

Posted online

Hard Knox BBQ LLC, a new concept from Metropolitan Grill’s Pat Duran and two business partners, opened this morning.

Co-owner Tyler Thompson confirmed the restaurant launched at 11 a.m. After last year opening a franchise restaurant of Duran’s Great American Taco Co., Thompson is again partnering with Duran, as well as Jeremy Smith, a previous co-owner of City Butcher, on the barbecue concept.

Thompson, who’s also general manager of Thompson Sales Co., said Hard Knox BBQ highlights winning flavors from barbecue competitions.

“We wanted to bring competition barbecue flavors to the restaurant,” he said. “Competition’s not really a region. It’s more of an across-the-country type flavor profile.”

He said Hard Knox is a reference to barbecue competitions, as well as his mother’s maiden name.

Hard Knox BBQ offers beef brisket, pork spare ribs, sausage, chicken thighs and nachos, among other menu items, according to its Facebook page. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday starting at lunch time until menu items sell out, and it also sells packaged rubs and spices, Thompson said.

At 2937 E. Battlefield Road, Hard Knox BBQ takes the place of Vespa Kitchen, a concept from Duran that operated next door to Metropolitan Grill. Vespa closed in July 2018 after about a year in business.

Smith, the so-called pitmaster for Hard Knox, has been involved in barbecue competitions, according to Facebook posts. It’s unclear when he left City Butcher.

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