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Barbecue restaurant to open at Evo's location

Evo's Coffee Lounge, an artsy, alternative mainstay of Ashland for decades, has shut down and will be replaced before the Fourth of July by Home State BBQ & Beer, a rib house run by two sisters from Colorado.

Situated on Main Street across from the library, the cafe went through a series of owners stretching back into the 1980s and was a popular venue for wall art, live music and highly rated espresso drinks. Contributors to Yelp noted its rich variety of hippies and homeless folks populating its outdoor seating.

The high-beam ceilings and rough cement floor (left over from its origins as a gas station in the mid-20th century) will remain, but Home State will appeal to a different clientele, says owner Rachelle Canady.

"It's going to be western-style barbecue," she says. "We thought about a gas station motif. We'll do western, with a display of western license plates and maps and a little cowboy deco. It will feel like backyard barbecue for everyone, family and community, with horseshoes, a small version we call ponyshoes, really good food and a relaxing environment.

"The old Evo's crowd will miss it, so they tell us, but we think they'll like it. We're doing a lot of remodeling and are transforming the environment and it won't be as hospitable to that old Evo's culture. We decided it was time for Evo's to evolve."

Home State — an honorific to their native Colorado — will open at 11 a.m., in time for the lunch crowd.

Rachelle and her sister, Christian Canady, bought Evo's from family member Lorenzo Mussell, who declined comment. The sisters migrated to Ashland in the mid-1990s.

The restaurant will offer ribs and pulled pork dishes and sandwiches with two side dishes in the $12 to $16 range, depending on whether you get a full or half rack. Vegetarians may order meatless side dishes such as potato salad, black beans and coleslaw. Desserts also will be available.

Beers will include regional and statewide microbrews in bottles and on tap. Dishes and bottled beer can be ordered to-go. There also will be growlers.

Home State will have live music outdoors in summer months, mostly on weekends.

Pit boss Sam Butcher says the sauce on the braised ribs will be smoky-spicy in the traditional western barbecue fashion. Employee Danielle Choquette developed many of the dishes.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.