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    In the Spotlight

    2015 HRACRE Award of Merit | Smoke BBQ Restaurant and Bar

    Inside Business Award Article

    Best Renovated or Historic Rehabilitation Project

    Smoke BBQ Restaurant and Bar

    A chic, urban barn in Newport News is now home to Smoke BBQ Restaurant and Bar. The cool, hip and fun dining destination with its award-winning barbecue and new relaxed outdoor dining space breathed new life and energy into a building in an otherwise tired strip mall parking lot. 

    Bright red "Smoke" signage can be easily seen from busy Warwick Boulevard. A 2,000-square-foot trellised patio, which greatly increases the restaurant's seating capacity, features a double-sided outdoor fireplace, concrete floors, 6-foot wood columns, exposed wood trusses, overhead string lights, and galvanized steel sconces. Inside, renovations include red sliding barn doors to separate the pre-existing private dining room from the main dining area. A rear-illuminated "Smoke" sign on the back wall facing the dining area is an alluring focal point that evokes the feeling of a large-scale branding iron. New teak chairs and wood paneling made from reclaimed barn siding add warmth, texture, and character to the interior. The restaurant has seen a 300 percent jump in sales since the renovation was completed. 

    Judges' comments: 

    "We liked the way they did some great place-making on a modest strip mall pad site. A pretty radical transformation, this project elevates the shopping center as a whole. The renovation certainly took this restaurant from a B to an A level. 

    The shell of the original structure is still there and the transformation is not overdone. They simply changed the roofline and emphasized the strong visual brand. One of the most interesting features is the new waiting area and outside dining area that animate space. The patrons are drawn in by seeing the activity and hearing the noise of people having a good time. 

    The strong visual brand also carries effectively inside. A lot of restaurants are very "theme-y," but this is consistent and simple all the way through and nicely detailed. The theme is not too overpowering. This project sets a great example of how to improve a very common, but ugly, suburban paradigm."