Buford steakhouse responds to pandemic with Southern comfort food

This takeout plate from Bare Bones Steakhouse includes collards, black-eyed peas, fried chicken and a corn muffin. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Caption
This takeout plate from Bare Bones Steakhouse includes collards, black-eyed peas, fried chicken and a corn muffin. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

A butcher for a good hunk of his 82 years, Buddy Maughon always said he wanted to open a steakhouse when he retired. After selling off his neighborhood meat markets in Decatur and Norcross, he did just that.

Appearing in 2015, Bare Bones Steakhouse, in the historic Bona Allen tannery in downtown Buford, was a dream realized for him — a place where diners could enjoy an icy martini; a tower of tempura-fried onion rings; and a prime steak, often hand-cut by the patriarch or his son Rhett.

“He’s got the ability to source the best steak he can find,” said Michael Maughon, the restaurant’s general manager and also Buddy’s son. “He also has the ability to keep it an affordable price point.”

Still, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Bare Bones to suspend in-house dining in March, it didn’t make much sense to offer a $45 filet mignon and a $69 tomahawk for two as takeout. Michael knew he had to come up with a carryout menu that was practical and affordable.

Then, he remembered Quinnie’s, a now-shuttered soul-food cafe on LaVista Road. Across the street from his late grandparents’ pharmacy, where he worked beginning at 13, Quinnie’s was his go-to spot, and the inspiration for his new takeout menu of Southern comfort food.

“When I wrote the menu, I was like, ‘What do people need during this shutdown?’ ” he said in a phone interview. “I was like, ‘Quinnie’s! They just need Quinnie’s!’ So that’s what I was thinking of when I wrote it.” (Think fried chicken, meatloaf, chicken pot pie, pot roast, barbecue pork and fried catfish, with sides of collards, black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, green beans and the like.)

However, if your heart is set on steak, you still can find a deal.

A selection of takeout plates from Bare Bones Steakhouse features chopped steak, kale Caesar, fried pork chops and fried chicken with sides. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Caption
A selection of takeout plates from Bare Bones Steakhouse features chopped steak, kale Caesar, fried pork chops and fried chicken with sides. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

The curbside menu offers, among other cuts, a choice New York strip or rib-eye, or a prime chateaubriand for two. Though the prices are about the same as dine-in, they come with a bonus: two sides and a dessert. In addition, a selection of $14 dinner plates (chopped steak with grilled onions and brown gravy; fried pork chops; Santa Fe chicken; a pasta dish; a Caesar with shrimp or chicken) also includes two sides and dessert.

When in-house dining resumes Tuesday, the new wallet-friendly menu will remain — but only as takeout.

On the business side, Michael said Bare Bones has not had to lay off any of about 40 employees, though a handful have chosen to stay home for personal reasons.

As it prepares to reopen, the restaurant is reconfiguring its dining rooms and educating staffers on safety measures. “We’re really following everything to the letter,” he said. “We’ve got the tape measures out. We’ve got the temperature checks at the backdoor (for staffers). We’ve got the masks and gloves.”

Two faces you can count on seeing at the refashioned steakhouse are those of founder Buddy Maughon and his wife, Gigi. Though Buddy remains physically robust and still cuts steaks from time to time, he’s been under quarantine during the pandemic. “Neither one of them enjoy the whole stay-at-home thing,” Michael said of his parents. “They’ll be glad to open the dining room.”

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BARE BONES STEAKHOUSE

Menu: takeout, focusing on Southern comfort food, with some steaks available; takeout to continue after dining room reopens Tuesday

What's new: $9.99 meat-and-three plates; $14 dinner plates, with two sides and dessert

Alcohol: one six-pack or bottle of wine per transaction

What I ordered: fried chicken with collards, black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese and blackberry cobbler; chopped steak with mashed potatoes, green beans and sticky-toffee pudding; kale Caesar with grilled shrimp and side of asparagus; fried pork chops with cheese grits and fries. The food was neatly packed and labeled, and was brought out soon after my arrival. On the whole, it was pretty standard Southern fare, but the portions were generous and the price point remarkable.

Service options: Call ahead for curbside service; payment taken over the phone; no delivery.

Safety protocols: follows all recommended CDC procedures

Address, phone: 115 E. Main St., Buford; 470-266-1890

Hours: takeout, 12-8 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays; dine-in service resumes Tuesday with normal hours, 4-9 p.m Tuesdays-Thursdays, 4-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 4-8 p.m. Sundays.

Website: barebonessteakhouse.com

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