Perhaps not honky tonkin’ in the Hank Williams sense, but the Sandy Spring location of the mini-Urban Bar-B-Que chain is planning to add live music late this summer, after owners David Calkins and Lee Howard expand their smokehouse.
When I spoke to Calkins on the phone this morning, he talked about not only adding live music but also showing movies in the parking lot, opening a full bar, expanding the barbecue menu, and including full service at the Sandy Spring spot.
Calkins and Howard are close to signing a deal that will greatly expand the Urban outlet up north. The partners plan to take over the other two retail spaces in their small strip center on Olney Sandy Spring Road, which will give them 5,800 square feet to play with.
That’s a ton of space, and as Calkins says, “I don’t think that places [like that] will survive on barbecue alone.”
So the build-out will include a stage, but not a large one. Calkins imagines three-piece bands strumming away on it. (There goes my fantasy of a Stubb’s Bar-B-Que knock-off in Sandy Spring!) He also imagines a “small expansion” of the smokehouse concept that has been the cornerstone of Urban.
As we talk, Calkins starts daydreaming about what he might add to the menu: catfish fingers, crab cakes, smoked rib-eye and prime rib, more salads, perhaps even a weekend brunch menu.
Calkins is quick to caution, however: “I’m not trying to be something we’re not.”
Which is, increasingly, a serious-minded barbecue house dedicated to the long, difficult Texas approach to smoking meats. Urban’s owners have become such devotees of Lone Star ‘cue that Calkins said, 10 years from now, he could imagine never serving sauce with his barbecue. He considers that a sign of his growing confidence with the Texas style.
Then he paused and realized his folly. The East Coast market has to have its sauce.
Sauce or not, the expanded Urban Bar-B-Que should be operational by late summer.