“A welcoming place where the neighborhood can come and have a good time.” That’s how Susan Hoffberg (aka Suzy) describes what she’s going for with her new BBQ restaurant that recently enjoyed its grand opening. SuzyQue’s BBQ on S. Valley Rd in West Orange, is just that and a little bit more.
For years, our friends and neighbors have often talked about how the South Orange / Maplewood / West Orange area has been desperate for an authentic BBQ joint. (And by authentic we mean properly smoked meat. Not ribs cooked in a pizza oven) Well, wait no more, because SuzyQue’s has arrived in our area and it’s good.
“I wanted to do BBQ. People love BBQ!” says Suzy with a smile “And I knew I had to invest in a real smoker”. And that smoker is the 2000 lb, “Southern Pride” behemoth that took them 3 ½ hours to get into the kitchen and threatened the very foundation of the building.
The other big investment was the building that houses SuzyQue’s. The former location of Quincy’s (which shuttered mysteriously last year) has always been a great space in a great location.
So how did it all come together for Suzy? I sat down with her before the July 4th holiday and listened to her story. It’s a good one and makes me want to root for her.
After decades as a marketing executive for a variety of Fortune 500 companies (and perhaps one too many crappy bosses) Suzy finally said to herself: “I don’t care if I shine shoes for a living, in my next career, I have to be my own boss”.
So, she took that positive fortitude, along with her own funds, into her local Chase where she had been a member for 30 years to ask for a loan. It went something like this:
“Do you have any restaurant experience?”
“And you say you need to buy an entire building to open this restaurant?”
“Do you know the restaurant business has a 90% failure rate?”
“Are you aware we are in a recession?”
Needless to say, Chase didn’t come through. But she did manage to secure the loan she needed (from a much hipper company) and the rest is history.
The space is cool. It’s almost two restaurants in one. To the right, there’s a bar area, with a good amount of seating. To the left you’ll find more of the family vibe. Meaning, I’ll be there with my buddies on Friday night and my kids on Saturday.
There’s a kid’s menu with a great selection of $5 items but if your kids are like mine, they want ribs!
Speaking of ribs, SuzyQue’s offers Baby Back, St Louis and a Beef Short Rib. “I think our smoked Short Rib is the best thing on the menu,” says Suzy. I have to agree.
Doug Ferguson chronicles his adventures in cooking at SuburbanCookbook.com.