September 14, 2014
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Restaurant Review
New CEO & menu at Smokey Bones
Don Fowler

We can’t drive south on Route 2 in Warwick without making a right-hand turn into Smokey Bones. I would go there just for the baked beans, while Joyce loves their garlic bread. And oh, those fall-off-the-bone ribs!

Smokey Bones recently hired Christopher J. Artinian as their new president and CEO. Artinian had been Regional Vice President of Operations for Morton’s Steak House, where we had enjoyed great steaks and superior service when going to UConn games in Hartford.

Morton’s was recently sold, and Smokey Bones hired Artinian to rework their operation and menu. He brings 17 years in the restaurant business, beginning in the pantry as a minimum wage, hourly employee and quickly moving up to management positions.

Smokey Bones has 66 locations in 17 states, and the Warwick restaurant is one of their leaders.

“Rhode Island is a great market,” Artinian said. “I’ve visited the restaurant and am impressed with the staff and operation. My goal is to grow the brand.”

Growth means some additions to the menu, including a new smoked prime rib (10 oz. is $15.99/14 oz. is $19.99) and for dessert a hot apple cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream ($6.99). Mac and cheese is being introduced to the menu, along with brisket in January. The Prime Rib is currently being served Thursday through Sunday after 4 p.m.

“Why would a fine dining guy move to a casual dining restaurant?” I asked Artinian.

“Smokey Bones follows the same principles about food quality and hospitality,” he said. “We offer great American food with an edge. My plan is to take it to the next level, and good service is the main reason people come back.”

Cranstonian Steven Walker has been the manager of the Warwick location for the past six years. He formerly worked at Applebee’s and Chelo’s and, like Artinian, worked his way up from the bottom.

“I used to come here often for the ribs after spending the day washing dishes,” he said.

We’ve been to Smokey Bones for lunch and dinner. Their Build-A-Burger menu provides you with a table card where you choose your burger, bun, hot and cold toppings, cheese and sauces, with prices ranging from $10.99 for a one lb. black angus beef to $6.99 for premium beef, turkey, chicken or veggie burger.

Appetizers are a meal in themselves, especially the nacho plate at $8.99. A must at every visit is the sweet cornbread, served piping hot with an herb butter that is as good as it gets.

My favorite is the Double Trouble, a combination of St. Louis and BBQ ribs with a number of choices of sauces ($17.99).

Walker pointed out the varied customer base that the restaurant serves. “We do a big luncheon business with the many offices, stores and malls in the area. It is also a convenient stop for shoppers. Dinnertime is a popular time for couples and families. And the evening finds the large bar filled, with sports on many of the TV channels,” he said.

Artinian said that he is scouting the area for new locations. How about one within walking distance of my house.

Smokey Bones is located at 31 Universal Ave., which is the shopping center off Route 2, next to Olive Garden. Their phone number is 821-2789.


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