The restaurant formerly known as the Pantry, at 407 Lewis Ave., opens on Tuesday as Little Brother, a spinoff of Little Brother BBQ in Clinton Hill, after more than a week of remodeling, the owners said.
The shift in focus from pastries and sandwiches to brisket and ribs comes a little more than a year after owners Ben Grossman and Craig Samuel opened the cafe.
"We never really got out of first gear," Samuel said about the Pantry. "So we had to stop, reboot, consider the things we did right and the things we weren't doing right."
Describing himself and his partner as "not really coffee shop guys," Samuel said the duo nixed the cafe idea after realizing they wanted to go back to a style similar to their original restaurant, the Smoke Joint, which opened as a barbecue counter before they expanded it to a larger, sit-down restaurant.
But despite the flourishing restaurant franchise, the two missed their smaller countertop-style model, Samuel said.
"A lot of what we loved about it from the very beginning was gone," Samuel said. "Little Brother was our way to go back to Smoke Joint at the beginning, and hone that concept."
The owners' sixth restaurant will still serve coffee — now a custom-roasted blend from Stone Street Coffee in Gowanus — alongside pastries and sandwiches during the day, but will also expand to include barbecue options from the Little Brother BBQ menu, German beer and custom-brewed SingleCut beer on tap.
As part of the redesign, Samuel and Grossman constructed new wooden benches for the restaurant's back room and added more tables for customers to sit down for a meal.
The owners, who said they like to close each of their restaurants once a year to make changes, said this upgrade would help them move forward while also giving them a chance to revisit their past.
"Every year we look and say, 'How can we make this better?'" Samuel said. "We looked at this as an opportunity for the first time in our company's history to do it again."