Fans of Damian Brugger’s
Texas-style brisket and ribs won’t have to wait much longer to enjoy them at his first restaurant. The local pit-master is set to open Black Label Icehouse (3000 Dryades St.; www.blacklabelbbq.net)
on Oct. 2.
A three-day party at the Central City beer hall and barbecue joint will feature music by local bands and food and drink specials.
Following the opening, a monthlong “Smoketoberfest” will feature German-style beers and snacks, including pretzels flown in from Munich, which Brugger will serve with smoked pork fat and Himalayan sea salt. Also on the menu are brisket sliders on pretzel buns with spicy mustard and house-made sauerkraut, pork schnitzel and German potato salad.
Brugger’s best-known project was a seven-month pop-up at the Lower Garden District whiskey haven Barrel Proof, where he set up shop on weekends, selling ribs, brisket and sausage.
Brugger was raised in southeastern and central Texas and says his love for grilling and barbecuing was sparked at a young age, when he spent his summers outdoors with family. He moved to New Orleans in 2005 after a four-year stint in the Marine Corps, during which he served as a military policeman and fought in the Iraq war.
“It took me a while to find my place,” Brugger says. “But eventually, I turned my hobby of smoking barbecue into a small business pop-up, starting out in the parking lot of Ms. Mae’s.”
Brugger and his girlfriend Mary Slason, who is a partner in the business, came across the Dryades Street location earlier in the year: the spot was formally home to Pop’s House of Blues and before that, Guitar Joe’s House of Blues.
“It’s been a local Central City hangout for years and years and years,” Brugger says, adding that it’s always been a dream of his to open up his own place.
The space features natural wood – cedar, knotty pine – with corrugated metal accents. A bar that stretches 30 feet anchors the main room, which includes a stage where live bands play. In addition to a poolroom there also is a game room with a shuffleboard table and vintage video games including Ms. Pac-Man.
Televisions are spread out throughout the space for sports viewing, Brugger says.
The bar's regular menu features Brugger’s classic Texas-style ribs, sausage, brisket, whole chickens, Texas toast and sides.
Beers from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi occupy 14 taps, and 16 to 18 types of beer will be available by the bottle.
A weekend brunch pop-up is also in the works, Brugger says.
Black Label Icehouse will be open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For more information, visit the website at www.blacklabelbbq.net.