Meat Hook BBQ in Laceyville is back for the season with new menu items and a fresh look.
The restaurant has been closed since late October, and owners Rene and Randy Brigham were busy Thursday serving faithful customers on opening day.
Over the winter, they made some changes to Meat Hook’s indoor dining rooms, which includes additions to the wooden aesthetic and ceramic tile, as well as new seating and lighting. Out front is new signage for the restaurant.
One of the most significant changes is a brand new mural on the wall, thanks to the Brighams’ oldest son, who owns a graphic design business.
“He designed the mural on the wall that shows kind of barbecue and our history, the history of the world,” Rene explained, noting that the remodel gives Meat Hook a more cohesive look. “It’s an interesting mural.”
The most exciting addition for barbecue lovers will likely be Meat Hook’s menu offerings.
“The food didn’t change. It’s still just as good, but we did add some new favorites,” she said.
Four of the menu additions are breaded and fried items: mozzarella sticks, onion rings, jalapeno poppers and macaroni and cheese wedges.
In the past, broccoli salad and potato salad were occasional specials, but now they are permanent menu items.
Meatloaf made from ground brisket was a temporary item last year, but the Brighams added it to the menu due to its popularity.
The brisket potato bomb, which was also a big hit last year, had an upgrade.
“We thought about how we could improve upon it,” Rene said. “I think Randy came up with a really good upgrade. It’s a more sophisticated brisket potato bomb than last year, and very good.”
Meat Hook, which opened in 2015, was the first restaurant venture for the Brighams.
“We know what good food tastes like. We don’t buy it pre-made and just plop it out of the can. It’s made from scratch,” Rene said. “We cook what we like and if we think it’s very good then it’s good enough for the restaurant.”
Randy started out by manufacturing pit smokers so people could rent them, but he realized people didn’t know how to use them.
“We ended up doing the cooking, which gave us the idea, ‘Why don’t we do the cooking, do the barbecuing ourselves?’,” he said.
Meat Hook began as takeout only in its first year and has been growing annually by “leaps and bounds.”
Rene explained that after year one, they added a few tables for dining in, and eventually expanded the service area, kitchen and dining area.
They also added more smokers for their various meat options: brisket, chicken, ribs and pork.
Meat Hook brought in a food trailer last year for mobile events, which has been “handy and attractive,” Randy said.
All of the sides are made with Rene’s recipes, including coleslaw, macaroni and cheese and seasoned green beans, just to name a few.
Meat Hook also offers some desserts, including pie, soft serve ice cream and brownies.
Meat Hook has seen customers from all over the state and even the world. The dining room previously had two maps where people could put a pin in where they’re from.
The Pennsylvania map eventually had no more room for pins, Rene said, and customers often travel far distances just to eat at Meat Hook.
This is likely because barbecue at Meat Hook is “the real deal.”
“We don’t sauce it up,” Rene said, but customers can choose between four homemade sauces if they wish. “We don’t hide our meat in sauce. We don’t have to hide it.”
Barbecue is fairly new to Pennsylvania, Randy said. Seven or eight years ago, he got interested when workers at a Texas gas company asked him to build a smoker, but he was mainly familiar with grills.
“We grill up here. They barbecue,” he said. “True barbecue is 225, 250 degrees. Our briskets take an average of 10 hours to cook.”
That’s why he’s gets up at 4 a.m. to prepare meat for the restaurant six days a week.
“I’m checking them throughout the day and I’m usually not done until late in the afternoon,” he said. “You put a lot of hours in for the three days that we’re open.”
Meat Hook BBQ is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit meathookbbq.com.