Arrowhead Ales Owner To Open BBQ Spot In Manhattan

MANHATTAN, IL — Mike Bacon’s been thinking about barbecue for a while, and he’s even slipped it into his Arrowhead Ales’ menu on occasion. But it took some beers over tacos at Soundgrowler Brewing in Tinley Park, for him to really get the idea cooking.

“I decided to start exploring the option of a side project focused only on a small but interesting BBQ menu as well as catering,” Bacon said. The Manhattan resident and Arrowhead Ales Brewing Company owner brainstormed with creative director Matt Sharp.

“It was then Arrowhead Smoke Works was born.”

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Mulling the ideas of pop-ups, food trucks, or a small location, a prior collaboration with the Village of Manhattan came to mind. Bacon had partnered with Manhattan officials previously on themed beer Manhoppenins. At mention that he was seeking space for his newest idea, Village officials said they had just the spot. On Tuesday, the Manhattan Village Board approved the barbecue spot opening in what once was the original firehouse building, 195 S. State Street at the corner of Park Street and Rt 52.

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With Arrowhead Ales Brewing based nearby in New Lenox, the name and reputation precedes it.

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“This is a great addition to our community and especially our downtown area,” said Mayor Mike Adrieansen. “We started discussing this opportunity with Arrowhead soon after our downtown development plan was approved in 2023, and we believe this will be a great catalyst for future downtown development.”

The Village is the current owner of the building which has been vacant approximately four years. Through an agreement between the Village and the restaurant operators, Bacon will lease the building, giving residents and visitors another food option while generating new revenue for the Village, officials said in a release.

“At Arrowhead Ales, we’ve always had a side passion for BBQ,” Bacon said. “As many people know, we’ve offered BBQ in a lot of different settings over the years. Triple Play Concerts, Manhattan Pork and Pint, and Sons of the American Legion Rib cook-off, to name just a few. We really never have any intentions on turning Arrowhead Ales into a BBQ joint.”

Bacon was envisioning a small space, but the firehouse seemed to good to pass up.

“… The Firehouse was a little bigger than I was thinking to get started, but the opportunity was right there,” Bacon said, “and I couldn’t let this pass by without giving it a shot, so here we are.”

Arrowhead Smoke Works is expected to offer a simple, but well-executed menu covering many different styles of BBQ.

“We’re looking to offer a small menu mainly consisting of brisket, pork, ribs, wings and some other surprises as we get creative,” Bacon said. “We will also offer catering. The space is small, in restaurant terms, so inventory could be limited, and some items could sell out rather quickly. We’re going to have some limited indoor and patio dining, but the main focus will be on carry-out and catering. “

Signature sandwiches will also appear on the menu, as well as distinct styles of ribs.

“We are excited to bring our passion for high-quality craft food and beer to Manhattan,” said owner Mike Bacon. “I live in Manhattan and see a great opportunity for BBQ and craft beer in this community. We are grateful to the Mayor and Village Board for being very easy to work with.”

The Village Board approved a multi-year lease at its March 5 Board meeting. The new economic development announcement follows the Manhattan downtown plan that was approved in 2023 and was intended to be a concept plan that would guide future investments in the central part of the Village.

Bacon estimates they’ll open by early-summer.

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