In 2003 Winnie and Bob Clowry took over the helm at Le Bus in Manayunk.
The restaurant, which now bears the name Winnie’s Le Bus, was already a well known eatery, and the pair was faced with the challenge of honoring the restaurant’s existing place in the community while trying to make it their own.
Ten years later, it is safe to say they’ve succeeded — Winnie’s Le Bus continues to be a go-to spot on Main Street for folks in Manayunk.
So when the property next door (4258 Main St., formerly Bella Trattoria) became available this past year, Winnie and Bob felt it was a natural progression to seize the opportunity.
“Bob and I bought Le Bus what feels like 100 years ago,” Winnie laughed. “When Bella Trattoria closed, I knew that the street could not take another vacancy, so we started kicking around ideas about what we could do there that wouldn’t compete with our existing concept.”
Enter Smokin’ John’s Bar-B-Que, which Winnie says is slated for a mid-December opening.
The barbecue joint will be a more upscale version of cafeteria style self-serve, with both communal and individual seating as well as a full bar offering a wide variety of craft beers, high-end whiskeys and bourbons and a list of specialty cocktails.
For those on the go, a take out fridge of craft beer will also be available.
On the food side, Chef John O’Brien will be serving up platters of brisket, ribs, pulled pork, rotisserie chicken and salmon accompanied by the barbecue staples like mac and cheese, broccoli slaw, a chopped salad and a handful of vegetarian options.
“John has been our chef since day one,” Clowry said, “So we’re excited for this new opportunity, and of course it made complete sense to call the place ‘Smokin’ John’s.'”
Winnie says that while they are still a few months out from opening, things have been running smoothly and excitement from their existing customers is already been brewing.
“You just don’t want to open up and be like everyone else,” she says. “You hope you bring something new to the table; maybe you bring another demographic to the street. That’s what I’m hoping for — a bigger draw of clientele to Main Street.”