"My husband's crazy – he'll smoke anything," says Cathy McIntyre with a laugh.
Big Mac's BBQ Pit at 1473 Raritan Road (near Friendly's – look for the big pink pig out front) is the couple's dream restaurant, where Cathy's husband John does just that, putting his years of backyard smoking to good use all week long for paying customers.
Big Mac's offers all kinds of smoked entrees from John – pulled pork, pork chops, brisket, ribs, chicken, turkey and even meatloaf – alongside sides and desserts made by Cathy, in a family-friendly atmosphere. They are open for lunch and dinner.
All the meats are smoked traditionally, says Cathy, using dry rubs, and everything is made fresh. For sauces, Big Mac's has its own called "Sweet and Sticky," plus several other flavors on each table.
"This is really my husband’s dream," says Cathy, a lifetime Clark resident. "He started experimenting with the grill and then we started experimenting with smoked foods. The more we did, the more we liked it."
The first time John used a smoker, Cathy says they left to go somewhere and forgot all about the pork he'd put in it.
"We came back and thought, 'Oh, it's going to be terrible,'" she says, "but we tried it anyway and it was so unbelievably good. That's how it all got started. Smoking takes time but the results are so worth it."
Soon John had amassed 25 smokers in the couple's backyard, and was convincing friends to start smoking, too.
"He bought every one he could find – all different shapes and sizes," says Cathy. "We used to have family barbecues and he would take things he made into work and people loved it. Family and friends were asking left and right for him to bring something here or there."
When John retired from his job as a heavy equipment mechanic in June, the McIntyre's decided to take smoking from the backyard into business. The Clark storefront they found to open in had been vacant for five years. It was once a luncheonette, says Cathy, where she worked when she was 16.
Cathy says so far the response from customers has been great. Pulled pork and mac n' cheese, smoked meatloaf, smoked barbecue beans, cornbread and Cathy's homemade rice pudding are the favorites on the menu.
In addition the the food, the atmosphere at Big Mac's is also made for comfort.
"We wanted to make it homey," says Cathy. "I want customers to feel comfortable and when people come in with kids and they're running around, I tell them don’t worry about it. That’s what this is for. I don't want people to ever say, 'That was a stuffy restaurant' – I want them to say, 'Gee weren't they nice.'"
Big Mac's BBQ, 1473 Raritan Road, 908-931-0005. Closed Mondays; catering available; delivery coming soon.