Barbecue is heating up at the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center.
Philadelphia-area chef Keith Taylor, known as “Chef Soul,” is opening Zachary’s BBQ & Soul inside the arts and entertainment complex at 1110 N. Third St. It opens July 6.
The U.S. Army veteran specializes in southern comfort foods and smoked specialties for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Taylor’s presence in the Philadelphia area includes a culinary consulting company and interactive culinary studio called Soul of Cooking Kitchen Experience, catering business and pop-up trailer at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown.
Taylor said he was impressed after H*MAC’s owners and invited him to visit Harrisburg for a couple of days.
“Harrisburg was never really on my radar,” Taylor admitted. “I see life and love and Americana and that building says so much. It was really easy to see it’s just a great community.”
H*MAC has been under new ownership since 2019 when HMAC Venue LLC purchased it for $6 million. Recently, the complex underwent renovations.
Additional renovations will convert a former indoor swimming pool and entertainment area as well as upgrade the Capitol Room with balcony, bars and green rooms. The projects are partly financed by a $1 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant.
Zachary’s is named after Taylor’s son, and the recipes inspired by family members including his grandmother, Doris Taylor.
Wood-smoked barbecue such as Carolina pulled pork, pulled chicken, boneless short rib, pork spare ribs and Caribbean jerk BBQ chicken comprise the menu. Sides include four-cheese baked macaroni, creamy house slaw, potato salad, sweet BBQ baked beans and collard greens.
Beyond smoked meats, Zachary’s specialties cover Creole jambalaya, po’ boys, fried chicken sandwiches, certified angus beef burgers, Impossible burger and jumbo peel and eat shrimp. Taylor said a HBG Meat & 3, inspired by a Tennessee menu staple with one meat and three side dishes, will likely become a fixture.
Desserts also star on the menu. Starting next week, Taylor said 50% of sales from a grilled sticky bun sundae dessert made with Dad’s Hat PA Whiskey maple glaze will be donated to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
The restaurant is offering an abridged menu for the soft opening due to meat supply chain issues related to the pandemic. Taylor said he expects to ramp up the offerings in the coming days and weeks.
Zachary’s is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m., daily.