Barbecue revolution: Wesley Chapel lands elevated barbecue restaurant

This fall, UNION72 will offer chef-inspired takes on barbecue in The Shops at Wiregrass.

Wesley Chapel's new UNION72 won't serve your average barbecue. - UNION72
Wesley Chapel's new UNION72 won't serve your average barbecue.

Modern barbecue sauces, rubs and pairings are on their way to Wesley Chapel.

Shooting for a mid-November opening, local restaurateurs Jeff Martin (founder of The Brass Tap) and Bharat Chhabria (who owns several Brass Tap franchises) will introduce The Shops at Wiregrass to their elevated, chef-driven barbecue restaurant. It’s called UNION72.

The restaurant at 2000 Piazza Ave. plans to merge barbecue’s traditional cooking methods with culinary innovation, according to a news release. To achieve this, Martin and Chhabria needed a pitmaster whose vision matched theirs. They found Geoff Zukosky.

“UNION72 is ultimately about elevating the traditional barbecue experience without mimicking it,” Chhabria said. “We embrace experimentation and innovation, and that is evident in our menu, which emphasizes unique ingredients and combinations.”

Martin said the food lineup — drawing influence from Latin American flavors, American food trucks and Asia’s nouveau-chic street vendors, among others — is a mixture of cuisines from across the world. Slow-cooked Memphis-style ribs (rubbed with house-made dry rub and marinated overnight) and The Conquistador (a Spanish spiced slow-smoked pork sandwich, pulled and topped with chimichurri, caramelized onions and a fried egg) are a couple of menu items.

Fashioned in-house, the sauce selection will include white barbecue, smoked tomato barbecue and Brazilian barbecue.

UNION72 will operate 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

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