WKChew: Smokey Bones is back at it again


Chris DiMeo

When it comes to aggressive rebranding, the newly opened Smokey Bones on Scottsville Road is a shocking success story.

After suffering a devastating fire in September 2015, the entire restaurant was burned to the ground and was put out of business for 14 months. However, it was rebuilt and redesigned over the summer, and made its debut on Nov. 10.

But the building wasn’t the only thing that underwent a makeover. The restaurant’s personality had a massive overhaul as well.

The old Smokey Bones had a very homey, log cabin aesthetic. Even on weekends and Friday nights, it was rarely so busy that there was a wait for a table, making it a good place to take the family on a weeknight, even if it was a little dull.

The redesigned restaurant, however, is nearly unrecognizable from its former self. Exciting, aggressive and modern, it now seems to be appealing primarily to the young college crowd.

The change is apparent even as you walk up to the restaurant, with raised banks of fire at the front doors catching the eye right off the bat. Inside, the logs and Southern memorabilia have been ditched for exposed brick and metal piping.

The high ceilings, pumping music and completely open floor design make it very loud and difficult to hear others. Furthermore, it’s also extremely popular right now, so larger groups may have to wait up to 45 minutes to be seated.

However, there are a sizable number of efficient waiters and waitresses, many of whom are WKU students, so that once you get seated, the service is quick, but still friendly and personal.

If you’re hoping for a quiet evening out with the family, you might want to go elsewhere, but the exciting atmosphere and bar-prominent arrangement make it ideal for a night on the town with friends.

As for the food, many of the favorites from before the redesign are back along with a few new dishes. One of these newcomers is the skillet cornbread. This appetizer doesn’t pop out in the menu, but it’s a surprisingly delicious find. What really makes this dish memorable is the pecan butter that comes with it. The unexpected sweetness works perfectly with the savory flavor of the bread, making the dish refreshing and exciting.

A Smokey Bones classic is the slow-smoked baby back ribs. The meat is as tender and flavor-packed as before, but the sauce seems to have been kicked up a notch. The flavor is smokier and richer than before, and it soaks into the meat to give it an extra kick.

To wrap up the meal, the menu brings back its signature dozen donuts. Our waiter recommended this dish, noting that it was their most popular dessert and had won awards in his hometown. It lived up to the hype.

The small, teacup-sized donuts were coated in cinnamon and brown sugar and served with two dipping sauces. The chocolate sauce was good but not exceptional, but it was really the raspberry sauce that stood out. It was both tangy and sweet, ending the meal with a light, refreshing taste.

With its established culinary repertoire and fiery new personality, Smokey Bones is taking Bowling Green by storm. This homey family restaurant has been reborn from the ashes as a trendy, exciting hub that is already drawing in Bowling Green’s youth in droves.