Richard Dickmann knew he wanted to create a sports bar that specialized in smoked meats, but he didn’t know what to name it.

“When you look at sports in the city of Covington, there was one team that kept popping up, and it was the Covington Blue Sox,” says Dickmann, owner of Smoke Justis and Dickmann’s Sports Cafe. Dickmann used the Blue Sox, and of one its pitchers, for inspiration.

“May 9, 1913, the opening day pitcher for the Covington Blue Sox was Walter Justis,” says Dickmann. Walter “Smoke” Justis played in the Federal League, which lasted from 1913-1915 and consisted of teams from Covington, Chicago, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and St. Louis. Federal Park, the home of the Covington Blue Sox, could be seen from the windows of Smoke Justis if the park were still standing.

With this piece of Covington history, Smoke Justis was born.

Smoke Justis carries the history of the federal league throughout the restaurant. “I had a well-known artist draw a mural of Walter Justis to hang behind the bar,” Dickmann says. A picture of the Covington Blue Sox team is displayed proudly on a wall by the bourbon bar. Display cards are even kept on each table to ensure that those dining know the story of Walter “Smoke” Justis.

Dickmann decided to serve smoked meats because he saw a trend in the community. “We don’t consider ourselves a barbecue place,” Dickmann says. “We wanted it to be more about smoked meats.” Dickmann noticed that there weren’t many smoked meat restaurants on the Kentucky side of the river, so he thought it made sense to go in that direction. “We’re able to use the smoked meats to provide more of a sports bar menu,” says Dickmann.

The menu incorporates the legacy of the Federal League. “Our fry boxes are named after all the teams in the Federal League,” says Dickmann. The menu consists of multiple smoked meats including pork, chicken, brisket and turkey. Most plates are served with crispy Saratoga chips. 302 Court St., Covington. M 4 p.m.-1 a.m., Tu-Th 11 a.m.-1 a.m., F 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sa 10 a.m.-2 a.m., Sun 10 a.m.-midnight. 859-814-8858, smokejustis.com.


To receive more articles from NKY Magazine sign-up for a complimentary subscription here: http://bit.ly/SwEQdC