Sept. 29, 2021 By Allie Griffin
A Long Island resident is bringing a popular Manhattan barbeque restaurant to several locations In Queens with the first opening in Forest Hills this year.
Michael Dolan, who left his corporate job in 2019 after working 14 years in finance to break into the restaurant industry, is opening a Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque franchise location at 108-22 Queens Blvd.
Dolan, 39, lived two streets over from Mighty Quinn’s original brick and mortar location in the East Village when he lived in New York City. He was a frequent customer of the eatery, which opened in 2013 and won the Zagat award for best new restaurant in New York that year.
Dolan left the East Village for Nassau County in 2015, but didn’t forget his go-to BBQ spot. Several years later when he heard that the barbeque chain was offering franchise opportunities, he jumped at the chance.
“I’ve been in the corporate world for my entire career, so I wanted something that I could call my own,” he said. “I’ve always loved to cook; I love smoking meats at home. I worked in the restaurant industry as a kid and I’ve always been enamored by it.”
Not having any real restaurant management experience, Dolan viewed buying a franchise as his best option.
Mighty Quinn’s checked off his boxes — it’s a fast-casual restaurant and its menu centers on protein and vegetables as opposed to burgers and fries found at most fast-casual eateries. The barbeque joint serves naturally raised meats and uses all fresh ingredients.
He signed a multi-unit agreement with the brand in mid-2019. Dolan plans to open four Queens locations, with Forest Hills being the borough’s first.
Dolan knew from the start that he wanted to open locations in Queens. He began scoping out possible neighborhoods across the borough and landed on Forest Hills for the borough’s flagship restaurant.
“We looked throughout Queens — Long Island City, Astoria — but ultimately decided that Forest Hills was the perfect location,” he said. “It has great foot traffic and a great community vibe.”
He also said there was a shortage of barbeque restaurants in the neighborhood.
After getting set back by the pandemic last year, Dolan signed the lease for the 1,700-square-foot Queens Boulevard location in early 2021. The building — which used to house Banter Irish Kitchen — is currently under construction, but he is hopeful that it will open before the end of the year.
Once open, the restaurant will serve the typical menu items offered at the other Mighty Quinn’s locations — which include five in Manhattan, one at Yankees Stadium in the Bronx, one on Long Island, one in New Jersey and one in Dubai— including meats smoked with wood for several hours.
“We’ll have the fantastic brisket that put [Mighty Quinn’s] on the map along with ribs, chicken, pulled pork, mac ‘n cheese, sweet potato casserole, Brussel sprouts, fried chicken sandwich — basically the same menu that they have at the five locations in Manhattan,” Dolan said.
However, the Forest Hills Mighty Quinn’s location will stand out from the other locations in that it will have a full bar with specialty cocktails and an extensive beer list.
The set-up, with big-screen TVs, will invite customers in to “enjoy a couple beers and specialty cocktails and watch the game,” Dolan said.
The restaurant will be able to seat about 35 people inside and another 25 people in its outdoor seating area.
“We’re super excited to be in Queens and I think this location in Forest Hills is going to be a premier dining spot with outdoor seating, a full-service bar and a great fast-casual vibe,” Dolan said.
He plans to open three additional locations in the borough in the future.