By Victoria Remley
Space Kat barbecue in downtown Youngstown was created through passion and a love of making people happy. Jack Zizzo, the chef and owner of Space Kat barbecue, started the business one year ago.
“I had been traveling and cooking for about 10 years in various cities, and it’s my way of bringing what I learned back to the folks of Youngstown,” Zizzo said.
Zizzo rents Space Kat’s kitchen out of The Draught House, and said he came upon this idea from seeing it in practice in Austin, Texas. When he discovered The Draught House’s kitchen was vacant, he took a trip to Youngstown to meet Jordan Klucinec, the owner of The Draught House.
He pitched Klucinec his idea for Space Kat barbecue, and then later moved his business venture into The Draught House.
Space Kat provides a full barbecue menu authentic to Central Texas, and Zizzo uses dry rub, salt and pepper and a marinara sauce over a live fire to cook the barbecue.
He said people should come to Space Kat first and foremost to get away and relax.
“I think it’s a very comfortable environment for people,” he said. “Whether you just want to drink, or if you want to eat, the bar setting here is very warm and comforting.”
Space Kat gives Youngstown a chance to experience authentic barbecue, which Zizzo said is hard to find in the Youngstown area. He said they cook everything low and slow, and it shows in the flavor of the food.
“We try to treat our ingredients very well and just put a lot of love into what we do,” he said.
Zizzo opened Space Kat because he was passionate about running his own business, and in his opinion, working for other chefs limits the amount of creativity he can have.
“To me cooking is an art form and it’s my way of expressing myself, so that was the most important thing,” he said. “No matter where I was, I wanted to showcase my food and my style.”
Nick Tancabel, a Youngstown State University senior math major, admired Space Kat’s food, and said his father is a butcher, so he grew up around a lot of fine cuts of meat and the barbecue is very tender.
“It’s very flavorful. I’ve kind of learned how to really pick apart a good piece of meat,” he said.
Tancabel visits Space Kat barbecue for the atmosphere, and said the restaurant is a hidden gem in Youngstown.
“You see the YSU atmosphere, you see the Browns helmet up top [on the wall behind the bar] and it’s very much like home,” Tancabel said.
Josh Fromel, a YSU senior electrical engineering major, said he enjoys the food.
“The food is some of the best I’ve had in Youngstown. I get the beef tri-tip. It’s one of my favorite meals to have downtown,” he said.
Fromel eats there because he loves the atmosphere of The Draught House.
“I came here one night, and I saw that they were serving food and I had to try it just for the heck of it and I loved it,” he said.
Space Kat barbecue is open Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Its last operating week until March is the week of Jan. 20.