Barbecue has returned to Pier 11 Mall in Astoria.
Phil Spencer and Mark Winheim have opened Smoked Bones BBQ in the space formerly occupied by Bruce McBride’s barbecue restaurant Rollin’ Thunder from 2006 until its closure in December.
Spencer, the self-described pit and sauce boss of Smoked Bones, previously worked at Baked Alaska and had been planning a butcher shop. Growing up going to barbecues gave him an affinity for the classic pit-style barbecue that he wanted to share with Astoria, he said.
The barbecue, from ribs and brisket to chicken, is dry rubbed and slow-smoked. The meats come with comfort food staples like collard greens, coleslaw, mac salad, black-eyed peas and corn biscuits. The sauces trot the globe, from the Deep South to Vietnam, and the Scoville scale from mild to Spencer’s “pain” sauce made with smoked habaneros, carrots and vinegar.
“Basically, any barbecue sauce from around the world, we’re going to have it,” Spencer said.
Smoked Bones will eventually do special whole-animal barbecues and private catering.
Winheim said the duo were tipped off by next-door neighbor Rich Ewing, owner of the Inferno Lounge, about the space opening up. The pier, a former grain elevator transformed into a minimall in the late 1970s by entrepreneurs George Brugh and Darrell Davis, has played host to a rotating cast of restaurants, now including Smoked Bones, the Inferno Lounge and Ewing’s Pier 11 Pizza. Along with food service provider Sysco and Fort George Brewery, Winheim previously worked for former Pier 11 eatery Cecil’s Trolley Stop Grill.
Brugh sold the property in 2014 to Stephen and Karen Allen, co-owners of nearby Astoria Brewing Co. The Allens and their children have fixed up suites and added a collection of antique dealers to the building’s central walkway.
“Those two have really breathed life into the entire property,” Winheim said of the Allens.