As Phat Jack’s BBQ’s reputation has grown in Lincoln, so has the size of its restaurant.
In February, owners Matt and Jackie Burt moved the popular barbecue joint, known for its Kansas City-style meaty ribs and burnt ends, from the Belmont Plaza at 11th Street and Cornhusker Highway to new digs on West O Street at 101 S.W. 14th Place.
This is Phat Jack’s third location since opening in 2008.
“We were having some problems with the building,” Jackie said of Phat Jack’s Belmont Plaza store. “We had outgrown it quite a bit.”
Indeed they had. It tended to be standing-room only in the 50-seat restaurant at lunch time.
“We didn’t have space for people to sit,” Jackie said. “It was a revolving door with people coming in and out. They had to take it out because there was nowhere to sit during lunch.”
Phat Jack’s has doubled its seating with its new store. The restaurant anchors a new-ish strip mall which sits next door to the Red Fox Steak House & Lounge on the south side of West O Street.
“We’ve been very blessed,” Jackie said. “The transition has been pretty easy to the new location.”
So much so, she thinks they may be ready for their “grand opening” even though they’ve already got eight months under their belts.
“We just wanted to make sure we’re in the swing of things before a grand opening,” Jackie said.
Phat Jack’s opened its first store in December 2008 in a small “shack” at 40th Street and Cornhusker Highway. That location was more of a to-go operation, with only a handful of tables for dine-in patrons. The Burts moved Phat Jack’s to Belmont Plaza in January 2012.
Today, Oklahoma Joe’s uses Phat Jack’s old site in Belmont Plaza to smoke its meats for its store in the Haymarket.
Phat Jack's new restaurant, which has an industrial feel to it with concrete floors and a gray color scheme, allows the Burts to do some things they hadn’t before — primarily sell alcohol. The Belmont Plaza store could not because it was located near a day care. Phat Jack’s has beer and will have mixed drinks by the end of the month, Jackie said.
Phat Jack’s now hand slices its brisket instead of using a machine because staff has “elbow room” to do so. Cutting brisket as it’s ordered enhances the freshness of it. The restaurant also now sells smokers and is offering twice-a-month, Thursday night smoking lessons. Go to its Facebook page for the next class. Finally, Phat Jack’s is now open for dinner on Mondays and has extended its closing time to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
The menu has pretty much stayed the same, although the Burts are experimenting more with their daily specials. Phat Jack’s has long been known for serving some of the best barbecue in Lincoln.
I picked up a combo order — ribs, pulled pork and burnt ends — on Halloween night. The meal ($25.99) meant to serve two could have actually fed three, even four. It featured four ribs and healthy portions of pulled pork and burnt ribs, two sides and Texas toast. I went with the macaroni and cheese and meat-filled baked beans. I also ordered some sweet cornbread ($1 each), baked in cupcake liners. The sweet is the sprinkle of sugar on each piece.
Phat Jack’s will prepare orders with either its homemade sweet mild or tangy spicy sauces or serve it naked. The store has sauces at each table and two dispensing stations for to-go orders for those who want their sauces on the side.
In December 2018, Phat Jack’s will celebrate its 10th birthday. The Burts’ skill at smoking meats is a big reason the restaurant continues to grow.
“I cannot say enough for what the city of Lincoln has done for us,” Jackie said. “They’ve taken us on and supported us so well.”