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What's up with Redbones lately?

Boston_Otter Jun 25, 2013 07:19 AM

This isn't meant to be a "dump on Redbones BBQ" thread; I know that some people loathe the place for whatever reason. I've always had a good time there and enjoy their food & atmosphere.

But lately things have been sort of… off. They took several really popular "all day specials" off the menu (and made them way more expensive by putting them on the regular menu), they took a very popular style of BBQ pork rib off the menu entirely, their beer prices have gone up dramatically, and now they're closing at around 11pm on Sundays and Mondays. And while their standard food items haven't changed, the last time I got their "combo" (a bargain plate of whatever BBQ they have on hand), it was all steamed and mushy with zero crust or smoke -- and the menu now says that it's "cooked up Yankee style".

Anyone know what's up over there? Are they cutting corners to prepare for their second location?

  1. p
    pedxing Jan 14, 2014 12:22 PM

    I haven't noticed a big drop off in quality at Redbones. Living within a short walk of Redbones, I've been a regular customer since it opened. It's always had it's ups and downs with some extended weak periods and occasional (but never reliably so) excellent meals.
    They have definitely been looking more closely at margins and portions over the last year or so and are not the bargain they once were. I love them because they are fun and have always supported their community - but my odds of being delighted with the food are higher at Soul Fire and Sweet Cheeks - texture, smoke and flavor are almost always better there.

    Based on food alone, I currently prefer Redbones to Blue Ribbon - which used to be far better than Redbones. (I used to drag everyone to Blue Ribbon, now I've been passing up their groupons).

    1. Boston_Otter Nov 14, 2013 11:42 AM

      As a "hey, still, wtf, Redbones," update, I went there last night with some friends at around 10:45. When we asked for the after-10:30 Late Night Menu, our waiter said "you've got it," pointing to the usual all-day menu. He then told us they had no ribs at all, nor anything with beef. When we said that was sort of strange for a BBQ rib place, he said "yeah, it was busy today."

      1. itaunas Oct 7, 2013 06:41 AM

        FWIW I have seen the Redbones van parked outside an industrial kitchen in Somerville multiple times in the last month or so (not Kitchen Inc). Its more than enough times to be a coincidence. They haven't appeared to be delivering and there has been a BBQ (smoking or grilling) smell in the air. I wonder if part of the plans of the Malden move are to setup a proper commissary and if they are preparing some of their Q offsite already. I have seen them smoking at the Somerville restaurant in 2013, so perhaps its other prep like for the food trucks and Kendall location.

        5 Replies
        1. re: itaunas
          LStaff Oct 7, 2013 09:12 AM

          They have been making bbq offsite for years - I thought it was within walking distance of their davis sq. location though.

          1. re: itaunas
            jgg13 Oct 7, 2013 10:05 AM

            They do offsite stuff next to Conway field, and have been doing so for a long time. You can see them loading up the truck there in the mornings

            1. re: jgg13
              enhF94 Nov 12, 2013 03:36 AM

              Behind City Slicker.

              1. re: enhF94
                jgg13 Nov 12, 2013 03:34 PM


              2. re: jgg13
                soylent_greens Nov 12, 2013 05:07 AM

                Yeah, and the smell makes it hard to concentrate at my son's t-ball games.

            2. l
              LStaff Jun 26, 2013 06:53 AM

              As far as beer prices, they really shot up shortly after the Foundry opened. Must have thought that they were leaving money on the table by not matching their prices. Now you also have 5 Horses supporting similar pricing in Davis Sq. They used to have the lowest prices in the area for craft beer, now even the Publick House (which used to the most expensive) seems like a bargain in comparison. I used to go to Redbones twice a week, now I am lucky if I get there twice a year.

              The combo has always been leftover previous day(s) bbq reheated in sauce. I've been told from some long time patrons that there was a time they would offer it for free during happy hour.

              1. jgg13 Jun 25, 2013 03:05 PM

                Without commenting on what I think is their steady state in terms of quality, this isn't the first time that they've dipped. There was one point within the last 10 years where I quit even letting friends drag me there until one day I was assured that they'd cleaned up their act. I went back and sure enough they had. I've no idea what might cause this but it seems to happen.

                If they get rid of that jerk beer though, I'm gonna have to kill someone.

                3 Replies
                1. re: jgg13
                  rknrll Jun 25, 2013 04:47 PM

                  Jerk beer!
                  I think you mean jerk beef, heh.

                  1. re: rknrll
                    jgg13 Jun 25, 2013 05:53 PM

                    Talk about Freudian ....

                  2. re: jgg13
                    enhF94 Jun 26, 2013 05:24 AM

                    This is an excellent comment for its discipline.

                  3. c
                    CookieLee Jun 25, 2013 12:39 PM

                    I know it's not on the T, but Blackstrap in Winthrop is much better. BYOB.

                    1. Unfoodie Jun 25, 2013 10:40 AM

                      They've been cutting corners for a long time. Wth the infusion of new restaraunts in the Davis/Porter area and beer bars opening all over the city they aren't a destination spot anymore. There have been rumors of 2nd locations floating around for at least 5yrs now. I've also heard rumors about them trying to prepare the books for investors or an outright sale. Closing early just means they have fewer or no full time employees and can save $ on healthcare.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Unfoodie
                        mkfisher Jun 25, 2013 10:54 AM

                        Assuming Boston_Otter is correct, what does closing at 11pm on Sundays and Mondays have to do with full time employees/healthcare costs? Not really sure I see the connection.

                        1. re: mkfisher
                          Gabatta Jun 25, 2013 10:57 AM

                          They used to be open until 12:30a every day. Reduced hours = less FTE

                          1. re: Gabatta
                            mkfisher Jun 25, 2013 11:18 AM

                            Got that. Just don't see how 3 hours per week can have much of an effect on FTE. Maybe I'm wrong, but it just doesn't seem like it's a drastic enough shift to make an impact.

                            1. re: mkfisher
                              Steve L Jun 25, 2013 02:22 PM

                              If you have to provide heathcare to anyone working above 30 hours a week and you can get most of them down to 29, it's a huge impact.

                        2. re: Unfoodie
                          Boston_Otter Jun 25, 2013 11:11 AM

                          They've officially announced their second location -- it's in Malden:

                          They may not be a "destination", but the lines out the door every night tell me they're still doing great business in Davis. They have no reason to close that location. And I should clarify: all of the things I mentioned above are new in the past 6-8 months or so.

                          1. re: Boston_Otter
                            Unfoodie Jun 25, 2013 05:12 PM

                            I never said they were going to close. They do a ton of business because they are an establishment in the neighborhood just like the McDonalds at the end of the street. The quality and value of the food/service has been declining for a while.

                            1. re: Unfoodie
                              stiv99 Jan 23, 2014 10:59 AM

                              The Mcdonald's at the end of the street recently closed!

                            2. re: Boston_Otter
                              simonr Jan 26, 2014 09:57 AM

                              I drive past the new Malden site regularly, and there's been no sign of any construction since they announced it last summer.

                              1. re: simonr
                                wandergirl Jan 26, 2014 10:08 AM

                                I just checked their Facebook page and their response to inquiries about the Malden site have become more vague than they had been. Previously they gave an estimate of when they hoped to open but now it is "We are still actively trying to work out the details! Thanks for your inquiry, we're anxious too!" I'm starting to lose hope that they will open at all.

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