St. Louis-based barbecue joint to open downtown Indy location

A St. Louis, Missouri-based barbecue joint is taking the downtown space last occupied by a Penn Station East Coast Subs and should open in early fall.

Sugarfire Smoke House said Wednesday that the location, at 24 W. Washington St., adjacent to Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery and across from Circle Centre mall, will be the seventh for the eatery and the first outside of Missouri.

The fast-casual restaurant opened in 2012 and is known for its brisket, pulled pork and ribs. Sugarfire consistently has been ranked best barbecue in St. Louis by local and national publications, the company said in a press release.

Founder and chef Mike Johnson and partner Christina Fitzgerald will join with Tom Lombardo, John Brauch and Mark Pitlianges as owners of the Indianapolis outpost.

Johnson has been featured on a variety of national television shows, including Food Network’s "BBQ, Brews & ‘Que," Destination America’s "BBQ Pitmasters," and Food Network’s "Beat Bobby Flay!" Fitzgerald competed on Season 11 of "Food Network Star."

“We are excited to be bringing our barbecue to the heart of downtown Indianapolis,” Johnson said in written comments. “We were proud to serve as the official barbecue of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and were encouraged by all of the positive feedback we received. We feel very positive about this new location becoming a success and are looking forward to becoming a part of the Indy community.”

The Indianapolis menu will be consistent with other Sugarfire locations and also will feature local craft beer, boozy milkshakes, and Sugarfire smoked lager and cherry cola.

At least one item, the fried pork sandwich, will be exclusive to the Indianapolis menu.

Sugarfire plans to offer counter service, with 50 indoor seats and some outdoor seating.

Penn Station vacated the West Washington Street space in August.

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