Out with the old and in with the new: Where Alivia’s Durham Bistro once stood, Maverick’s Smokehouse and Taproom is ready to reveal its new persona and introduces an impressive array of barbecue styles that are “cooked slow and served fast.”
We asked owners Fergus Bradley and Jason Sholtz and chef Brian Stinnett to tell us about the restaurant switchover, all the different styles of BBQ, and to suggest some of the “must try” dishes and sides.
BBC: What prompted Alivia’s to hit the reset button and introduce an entirely new restaurant in the space?
MAVERICK’S: We decided to open Maverick’s Smokehouse and Taproom as a full service barbecue restaurant based on where we thought we could fit into the landscape of downtown Durham for long-term success.
We wanted to transition into a new concept and create a true identity for this great space. It was a natural evolution for us and allows us to bring something unique to the Brightleaf area of Main Street, while maintaining a space for people to enjoy great food and fun times.
BBC: There are a lot of options on the menu; what are some of Maverick’s must-try dishes, sides and drinks?
MAVERICK’S: While we offer many classics like mac ‘n’ cheese and collard greens, we have put our own creative spin on them. For example, we’ve incorporated gouda into our mac ‘n’ cheese for an updated flavor profile.
As for signature dishes, “must tries” will be the Memphis BBQ spaghetti, a unique dish specific to that region of the South; fried chicken; Chef Brian’s prized smoked ribs, and onion puppies (our version of hushpuppies). The goal is to celebrate the many forms and flavors of barbecue across the South.
Maverick’s will offer a full bar program with unique signature cocktails, wine, and plenty of cold beer (18 taps), many of which will be NC beers. Our updated cocktail program will incorporate several infusions and smoked bourbons. As a long time Durham bartender and bar manager, Cameron will create a seasonal craft cocktail menu with a heavy influence from the boom of North Carolina’s distilleries.
BBC: Give us a sense of some of the different styles/regions of BBQ that appear on the Maverick’s menu…
MAVERICK’S: Maverick’s will offer Eastern style BBQ, Texas brisket, and Memphis style ribs. We will offer all our sauces at the table for guests to enhance their food to their liking. Guests will be able to choose from Eastern or Western style, sweet and spicy Memphis, or dark and spicy Texas style BBQ sauces and we’ll offer rotating sauces to represent other regions across the South as well. For example, our guests may walk in and find our spin on the Alabama white sauce or South Carolina mustard sauce. We want to give diners a chance to play with their food and test out various flavors in order to find their own personal favorite.
BBC: In what ways will Maverick’s be unique compared to other barbecue restaurants?
MAVERICK’S: Our goal is to touch upon all styles of BBQ across the South. We also have one of the largest patios in downtown Durham and our guests can eat in or dine on the patio, or enjoy our new outside lounge and bar for sipping drinks and sharing plates. Another unique feature will be the option for family-style meals! BBC: Can you give us a sense of the price range?
MAVERICK’S: We’ve kept our prices cost-effective; plates run $8-$28, plus we have a family-style menu. To give a sense of the range, our pulled pork plate is $8 and a full rack of ribs is $28 with two sides, plus everything in between. This allows for a group of friends or a family to choose family-style options from the menu and share it at the table.
BBC: What is the atmosphere of the new restaurant?
MAVERICK’S: We remodeled to make Maverick’s rustic and comfortable. The use of salvaged wood has created a warm and inviting environment to enjoy a meal or drink inside or out on the patio. Maverick’s was designed to appeal to small or large groups and will continue to draw the late night crowds like we did with Alivia’s.
The bistro style décor has been removed and the space has been outfitted to allow for more efficient service. The outside has been painted a standout red that you cannot miss as you drive or walk by.
Our food is “cooked slow and served fast” in an inviting atmosphere that appeals to all. Our smoker will work around the clock to provide the best possible slow cooked meats on Main Street. Maverick’s Smokehouse and Taproom will be in soft opening mode during dinner hours this weekend (Sept. 29-Oct. 1). Starting October 2nd, it will be open for dinner at 5:30 Monday-Wednesday and then regular hours starting Thursday (11am-close).
Photos courtesy of Maverick’s