Black Dog prepares for Champaign restaurant opening

By Masaki Sugimoto

Black Dog Smoke and Ale House is buzzing in preparation for the full opening of the Champaign location at 320 N. Chestnut St. According to their website, it should be open at some point in late August, though a definite opening date has not been released.

“I think it’s a good idea they’re opening a new location, considering they’re always busy,” said Lisa Pearson, who has been going to Black Dog since she moved to the area eight years ago.

The Champaign location, set in an old railway building, will include a full dining room with space for larger parties.

“I don’t know if it will water it down because part of the appeal is how packed it is,” said Karina Misberg about the new location lessening crowds. She noted the charm of hearing staff shout across the small dining room when they were out of a dish.

Casey Baer, junior in LAS, said adding seating was a smart move. 

“On the very short list of things that I was hoping they would improve, seating was one of them,” he said. 

Most of the menu items are available at the Champaign restaurant, as well as specialty items BBQ pork nachos, Cuban sandwiches and pork belly, according to Black Dog’s Facebook page

“I hope they keep the exact same menu,” Baer said. “I’m just excited to get some barbecue.”

Pearson tried the new restaurant, which has been open for carry-out Thursday through Sunday since May, and said the food was just as good as the Urbana location and was just as fast.

Photos of the new location’s progress are posted on Facebook, and customers can get a glimpse of the interior when they pick up their orders. The exposed brick walls and metal support beams add to the color scheme, which follows the warm orange and dark-wood tones in the Urbana location.

Seating areas and a full bar have been installed, and with an operating kitchen, co-owners Pedro Heller and Mike Cochran are in the home stretch to reach their goal of opening within the month, just in time for students to return.

“Obviously, on campus you’re going to get a lot of foot traffic,” Baer said, adding that good barbecue is hard to find. “Out here, I think that’s the best option you have.”

Misberg, who was raised vegetarian, admitted that although it was not the sort of place she would usually pick to eat, it was some of the best food in town. 

“Based on the number of people who love Black Dog,” she said, “they’re going to do great.”

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