Smokey Bones is no more
Summary: Darden is closing and/or selling off all the Smokey Bones restaurants
I'm not a rib-eater, but I actually liked some of their chicken and salad offerings quite a bit.
Although I never ate at Smokey Bones, one has to assume that their quality was similar to that of Darden's other enterprises, namely Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Just as nobody familiar with authentic Italian food would eat at Olive Garden, and just as nobody who likes fresh, well-prepared fish would consider eating at Red Lobster, I have to believe that Smokey Bones relied on a customer base that was not familiar with authentic barbeque fare. After a while, that customer base is probably just not sufficient for economic survival, especially in the South, where there are many people who know and love authentically-prepared barbeque.
Bugger it! We live quite close to a Smokey Bones and go there about once a month for a cheap BBQ fix. They don't have a great variety of food, but it's always seemed decent enough to me, and I love their bbq sauce. I wonder if they're selling or closing the Fort Lauderdale store? (I'll have to see if they're still open...)
As someone who grew up in the heart of barbecue country, and definitely has strong opinions about barbecue, I actually thought their ribs weren't bad. For chain ribs, I'd say Tony Roma's definitely has the best (and of course, chain ribs don't compare to the real thing), but Smokey Bones was decent and had some nice menu selections. They were definitely better than some of the barbecue I've had elsewhere. Does anyone know why they closed?
From what I read a month or so ago, the Darden company gave up trying to make Smokey Bones into a national concept on par with Olive Garden and Red Lobster.
They had tried fiddling around with the menu and had read several months ago that they were even going to de-emphasize the BBQ aspect of the restaurant (which left me scratching my head because it was if they were trying to make it into a generic bar and grill place). They also had a hard time attracting female patrons.
They did have excellent onion rings!