For a few years now, Fox and Pearl has been a barbecue joint — about four hours a week.
Every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the acclaimed West Side restaurant, chef and co-owner Vaughn Good swaps the usual upscale-Midwestern small plates and entrees for a menu of brisket tacos and pork belly biscuit sandwiches and jalapeno cheddar sausage served by the quarter-pound. Called Night Goat, it started as a carryout special during COVID, then replaced Fox and Pearl’s Sunday brunch in 2021.
“It was always just Vaughn’s passion project — there was never a clear destination for where it was going,” said Kristine Hull, Good’s wife and co-owner of Fox and Pearl. “But it’s gained enough traction now that it seemed like maybe it was time to find its own place.”
They did not have to look far. Night Goat plans to open what Hull described as a “honky-tonk dive bar with barbecue” next year beneath the restaurant.
No, not in Fox and Pearl’s downstairs lounge, which connects to the restaurant through a spiral staircase near the entrance and will remain as-is. Night Goat will be taking over a separate area in the basement of the building, accessible through doors north of the restaurant, at 2139 Summit St.
The space has the bones of a tavern from its long-ago days as a social club called Latin Quarters. (The building itself was erected in 1907 as a gathering spot and dance hall for the Swedish community.) Good and Hull plan to convert a former boiler room in the back into a small kitchen and add a walk-up window for guests to place barbecue orders.
They had originally conceived of the space as a dive bar — no food.
“I always figured if Night Goat ever did its own thing, it would be more of a traditional barbecue restaurant with trays and lines, sort of Texas style,” Good said. “But it was going to be hard to get a tavern license here, which meant we needed to serve food. So the idea is to merge Night Goat with the ‘60s/‘70s-style dive bar thing we were planning and make that into something cool.”
The menu, he said, will be more based around barbecue sandwiches and tacos than the meat-and-sides model. “Snacks and hand-held foods that you’d sit at a bar and eat,” Good said. “We’ll have a TV down there so you can watch games,” Hull added.
They plan to keep dive bar hours: 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, with food till midnight. They’re also in the process of applying for a Sunday liquor license.
Good and Hull said they are shooting for a late spring opening. The final Sunday service of the Night Goat pop-up is Dec. 3, but starting Dec. 14, those seeking a barbecue fix can head to the Fox and Pearl lounge on Thursdays from 5 to 10 p.m., where Night Goat will live on for the evening crowd.
“It’ll be a little microcosm of what we plan to do,” Good said. “We’ll try out different specials — ribs, sandwiches — and see what sticks. Get the kinks out before we open.”