The University Avenue space that’s been a neighborhood landmark since Carnitas’ Snack Shack first launched there 2011, when chef Hanis Cavin co-founded his shrine to pork, is currently undergoing a transition into a new bar and eatery that sees Cavin partnering with longtime friend Brandon Zanavich, chef-owner of The Friendly.
After a brief stint as The Porchetta Shack, the University Avenue will reopen by early September as The Friendly Tavern. It’s a full-circle moment for Zanavich, who previously worked at several local spots including Carnitas’ Snack Shack; the tavern will be an extension of his 30th Street eatery. Run by a tightly-knit crew, who churns out a satisfyingly simple menu, it debuted in 2018 and was quickly embraced by the community.
For the ever hard-working Cavin, the new collaboration will allow the chef to stay connected to the space while focusing on The Pioneer, his busy East County barbecue outpost, and pursuing other opportunities.
The partners are redoing the outdoor dining area in green and dark wood, and emphasizing the back bar, which will be enshrouded in greenery and shaded by sun sails. Pouring exclusively Fall Brewing beer on draft, it will offer a concise list of spirits and mixers for call drinks priced at $5 or $7.
While The Friendly’s menu is based on pizza, its breakout hit has been the Dirty Flat Top Cheeseburger. The Friendly Tavern will have an all-burger menu, featuring the signature burger as well as burgers that have run as popular specials, including a bacon-mushroom-swiss burger and a barbecue-sauced version called The Shitkicker.