It’s good to see this Providence institution get a new lease on life. Wes’ Rib House opened in its Olneyville location back in the ’80s and it has long been overdue for an upgrade. The new owners have taken a big swing, expanding the operation and bringing it up to date. According to the ProJo:
They gutted the kitchen to update with all new systems. They bought a “giant smoker” and built a pit. All their barbecue is smoked and then finished on the pit, over hickory wood by longtime pitmaster Kenny McKen.
Sounds like we are in experienced hands. These are the Providence Coal Fired Pizza people who, operating as the Crisp Restaurant Group, already have the Barnaby’s Public House speakeasy, the Union Station Brewery, and a couple of pizzerias in their portfolio.
Not only have they renovated the first floor, but the second floor is now a live music venue. Hooray. (Coming up: The Love Hangover on February 16th, “an evening filled with love, laughter, and mouthwatering delights grilled up in Wes’ famous pit! Food and drinks served noon to midnight; music starts at 8pm.”)
My last meal at Wes’, decades ago, was baby back ribs slathered in an overly sweet, gloopy red BBQ sauce. I knew that this was not what the people of Tennessee or Texas were getting. But by then Brewton had sold his interest and moved out of state; he died in 2016. For more history check out this piece in the Boston Globe; they are also excited about the new Wes’ and have included an amazing story from the ’70s involving a visit from the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, that got way out of hand.
Origin story confusion? According to the ProJo, the original Wes’ opened on Broad Street in 1976. The ProJo and the Globe agree that they relocated to the Dike Street location in 1983. However, Wes’ menu describes itself as “a legendary institution that opened its doors in Olneyville in 1973” as indicated on the sign on the building. Who knows . . . who cares . . . just pass the cornbread.
Hours: Closed Tuesday and Wednesday/ Monday and Thursday, 4pm to 11pm/ Friday and Saturday, 11:30am to midnight/ Sunday, 11:30am to 11pm.
Go here for the menu.
(This photo was taken on a rainy night when I discovered to my chagrin that they were closed. It may not be the image to get your mouth watering, but it has a Lynchian gloom that I rather like.)