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What's up with Redbones lately?

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?

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  1. 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.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Unfoodie

      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

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

        1. re: Gabatta

          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

            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

        They've officially announced their second location -- it's in Malden:
        http://www.redbones.com/malden.html

        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

          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

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

          2. re: Boston_Otter

            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

              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.

                1. re: Boston_Otter

                  The Malden location has fallen through unfortunately. Apparently they couldn't come to an agreement with the Rosebud landlord. The City of Malden hopes to find them another location. It's a shame it didn't work out at Rosebud, the plans for the beer garden and onsite BBQ-ing had sounded really great.

                  http://m.malden.wickedlocal.com/artic...

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

                1. 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

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

                    1. re: jgg13

                      This is an excellent comment for its discipline.

                    2. 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. 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

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

                          1. re: itaunas

                            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

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