A fabulous new barbecue restaurant and hangout is coming to Denton, from one of the area's most successful food and beverage teams.
Called H2Oak, it'll open at 215 E Hickory St., in the area that used to be the site for the music festival Oaktopia, and it's from the same group that owns and operates Barley & Board, Bumbershoot Barbecue, and Earl's 377 Pizza.
Located just off the historic downtown square and tucked between Hickory and Oak streets on a beautiful one-acre green space, H2Oak is envisioned as a backyard kind of deal. It'll have not only a barbecue restaurant but also an outdoor turf playground equipped with games like Wiffle ball and a 4,000-square-foot indoor venue that will play host to local, regional, national, and international artists.
The building is close to 10,000 square feet, and boasts multiple dining areas — something they didn't have with Bumbershoot Barbecue, their BBQ trailer in Argyle, says co-owner Eric Pulido.
"That's basically a trailer with an open-air patio, and it's affected by inclement weather, which makes things unpredictable," he says. "This gives us the flexibility of both indoor and outdoor spaces."
The name H2Oak not only refers to the physical location of Hickory and Oak, but also to the type of smoking method they'll use: a blend of hickory and oak woods on indirect heat pits, adhering to the low-and-slow method of cooking meat with two locally built offset smokers manned 24/7.
The menu is being designed by Chad Kelly, their executive chef for all of their concepts, and will include most of your traditional BBQ offerings including brisket, St. Louis-style ribs, house-made sausages, and "myriad" sides including a mustard-based potato salad, corn on the cob, and a red cabbage cole slaw.
They'll also have a number of interactive elements, including an ice cream bar, a build-your-own macaroni and cheese, and a build-your-own spud. There'll be cold beer, canned wines, and cocktails, too.
"With barbecue, everyone has their standbys, and we're not trying to reinvent the wheel, but maybe just put our own spin on the wheel," Pulido says.
They feel lucky to have found this rare green space so close to downtown.
"We want to do it right and have it be something that's good for families and kids of all ages," he says. "I have kids now, so I think about it a lot more, about finding a place where you can eat and play. There are outdoor venue bars, but they don't cater to all with a full menu or things for kids to do. We're just trying to check the boxes on what we feel is missing."
The restaurant's interior will follow a woody craftsman style that also incorporates relics and elements from the location's history as an automotive shop.
"Back in the day, it was a car dealership, and then a repair shop over the years," Pulido says. "It's like a time capsule, with lots of cool stuff, some of which we got to incorporate or repurpose, to give some sense of the history. We've kept all the original rafters, ceilings, to stay true to what it was and not take away from the story that existed. When you have something already there, why not try to breathe new life into it and use it, and not tear it down?"