Life was good for Sean and Nikeah Green at the start of 2020. Their catering company, BBQ Unlimited, was busy with lunchtime setups at Center City offices arranged through the Fooda service, and they supplemented business with private parties and off-site events.
Everything crashed down as the pandemic cleared out the offices and banned events. The couple’s first pivot idea was renting a room in a delivery-only “ghost” kitchen in North Philadelphia, where drivers picked up their ribs and mac. The economics quickly became unappetizing, Sean Green said.
Their next step was unthinkable just a year and a half ago: a full restaurant at 246 Market St. in Old City, just off Third Street, which they opened in April 2021. The Greens now have 6,300 square feet on two floors, plus a basement for prep — all for $4,500 a month, which was 25% less than they were paying for 200 square feet inside the ghost kitchen.
They have been ramping up business, opening the dining rooms and allowing walk-ins in addition to the delivery services. It’s BYOB for now, though they are considering a liquor license.
Menu has the barbecue/soul staples served in generous portions, including tender brisket, beef, and St. Louis-style pork ribs, various fish, every manner of fried food, and requisite sides, including collard greens seasoned with turkey, five-cheese mac and cheese, and a creamy potato salad whose ingredients I cannot place — and I can’t find out, either, because Sean keeps everything to himself, even down to the wood he uses in his custom smoker.
Also on Philadelphia barbecue front
May 20 is the target opening of Huff & Puff BBQ at 246 S. 11th St., next door to Middle Child. This project brings together South Jerseyans Luke Patrick, Josh Hitchner, and Adele Monaghan on a takeout/delivery joint with a strong complement of vegetarian items, including smoked watermelon and “corn ribs” (corn sliced lengthwise and grilled).