Smokey Bones will open its doors in Champaign — again.
The full-service, casual barbecue restaurant — which features a varied menu with everything from wings to ribs to steaks to burgers — will open in the building most recently occupied by Old Chicago next to Market Place Mall in Champaign.
There’s no clear word yet on a timeline for opening, building permits have been filed with the city of Champaign, its planning department confirmed. The fast casual barbecue chain is now hiring managers, including a general manager, kitchen manager and bar manager for the Champaign store, which will presumably open sometime in early 2023.
You might be thinking to yourself: wait. Didn’t we have a Smokey Bones restaurant? In that same location?
The answers are yes and yes.
The original Champaign Smokey Bones closed in October 2007, after only two years being open at its location in an outlot at Market Place Mall. Then owned by restaurant megacorporation Darden Restaurants — best known for being the parent company of Olive Garden — the Smokey Bones brand was shut down, with multiple stores closed at the same time.
In December 2007, Darden sold the Smokey Bones to its current owner, Barbeque Integrated, Inc. Since then it has changed its vibe and menu.
Smokey Bones truly has something for everyone, including craft cocktails for grownups and a kids menu that takes the younger ones seriously. In addition to traditional fare such as mac and cheese, grilled cheese and burgers, the kids menu also includes sirloin, grilled chicken, barbecue chicken, and a pulled pork sandwich.
There are now 62 Smokey Bones locations across 16 states. The closest Smokey Bones to Champaign is located in Springfield, Ill.