Mobsters & Brisket Draw Food Lovers to New Dayton Restaurant
A restaurant with a mobster theme that features images of famous American criminals from the height of the mafia era may lead potential customers to believe that they are about to dine on Italian cuisine.
But that's not the case at Wise Guys, the new restaurant opened by Bruce Granger on Sixth Avenue in Dayton, where the Most Wanted are brisket and pulled pork.
And other homemade items, including a 100-year old cole slaw recipe handed down through Granger's family.
When the plans for Wise Guys were being developed last spring, the menu was full of a lot more than the meats that many diners like to smother in barbecue. "We took thirty-two items off the menu," said Granger, who learned to cook as a child while living with his grandmother. "It's kind of a small place, the kitchen is kind of small, and it kind of worried me that we had such a big menu."
Now with a narrower focus on what he does best (though he keeps the recipes secret), buzz is growing around Granger's main attractions. "People love the barbecue and brisket," said Granger, who lives in southern Campbell County. "They claim I'm better than Montgomery Inn and City BBQ."
Wise Guys opened in late August after a few months of preliminary preparations. After an original partner bailed, Granger and his 20-year old son, Austin, put in around fifteen hours a day trying to stake their claim to a spot among Northern Kentucky's destination eateries. "It's just me and him and a couple of servers," Granger said.
In addition to the brisket and pork, criminal eyes will look down from the walls as customers dine on Cincinnati-style chili and coneys, appetizers like fried cheese sticks and jalapeno poppers, burgers, and sides liek pickled cucumbers & onions and his soon-to-be-famous cole slaw.
Granger previously operated an Angilo's pizza parlor and worked in catering before striking out on his own this year. Some of his early work on Wise Guys included securing wanted posters of criminals off eBay to decorate his dining room and the middle section of Wise Guys known as "The Capone Room".
Granger's plans started closer to home in California, Kentucky (from where he commutes 26 miles each way to his new place that pays homage to Newport's gangster heritage) when he set up shop at the Taste of Campbell County. A photographer from a local TV news station shot some video of Granger's offerings and when he finished, the Wise Guys crew gave him a complimentary BBQ pork sandwich.
Later that night, the footage aired across Cincinnati.
"He put us on as Wise Guys Barbecue and it kind of stuck," Granger said.
Wise Guys, 517 Sixth Avenue, Dayton, KY
Hours: Tuesday - Thursday 11-9, Friday & Saturday 11-10, Sunday, 11-6. Closed Mondays.
Story & Photos by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News