When Smokin’ Planks in Port Royal closed for its annual renovations and cleaning in July, it opened with more than just repaired equipment.
The barbecue restaurant reopened its doors July 27 with a brand new owner, Jason Cummings.
Cummings, who also owns Jason’s Seafood and Wings on Robert Smalls Parkway in Beaufort, said most people weren’t aware of the Plank family’s plans to retire from the restaurant business. Larry and Nancy Plank established the restaurant in 2012 when they turned the former Olde Town Coffeehaus into a barbecue joint.
“I was a bit nervous about that fact, because (Smokin’ Planks has) been a staple in the neighborhood for ... four-plus years, you know, sometimes ... people resist change,” he said. “But to my surprise — my pleasant surprise, I should say — everybody’s been really receptive.”
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He said he plans to have an official grand reopening sometime in mid-September.
Along with a new owner, the smokehouse will feature several other changes, including tweaks to the hours, menu and possible entertainment ventures.
Cummings said the current hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. After the grand reopening, Cummings said he plans to keep the restaurant open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with an extra hour at night on Fridays and Saturdays.
“I want to make it more of a bistro-style in the daytime,” he said. “I might call it like ‘J’s Smokehouse and Bistro on Paris Ave’ and just sort of expand the menu and offer other things.”
Already added to the barbecue-heavy menu is a shrimp salad wrap, a shrimp po’boy, an oyster po’boy, a garden salad with chicken or salmon, a seafood platter and daily specials, Cummings said.
“Being that close to the water, I would love to incorporate more seafood dishes into that menu,” he said. “But keep the Smokin’ Planks image, keep that design, keep that in place for those who are faithful to the restaurant and love good barbecue.”
According to Cummings, the decor and atmosphere of Smokin’ Planks would remain the same
“They spent a lot of time creating and getting that place to kind of portray the whole smokehouse image,” he said. “And they’ve done such a wonderful job that ... you know the old adage of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
In the future, Cummings said, he wants to expand the seating capacity and create a “destination spot one or two days a week where a family could come and have entertainment as well as dinner.”
“(The Smokin’ Planks building has) a really nice porch,” he said. “I kind of want to glass that in or screen that in for the summertime so we can keep it cool. There’s a lot to the side of the building, that’s a really nice lot so I want to eventually do maybe some Sunday Jazz or ... utilize that area for entertainment as well as dining.”
Aside from his future entertainment ventures, Cummings said he was excited to be in the area and start serving the community.
“It’s only been a couple of weeks, but we’ve seen our fair share of traffic,” he said. “And I’d say 95 percent has been really supportive.”