Get a taste of the delicious Bluff City BBQ on Midland Ave.!
A new restaurant will join the great town of Montclair, Bluff City BBQ, right here on Midland Ave.! Although there’s no set date, the Memphis inspired cuisine is said to open in late October. The distinctive style of BBQ will feature dry-rubbed, slow-cooked meats with house-made, sweet-tart sauces accompanied by seasonal sides. Owner and Culinary Director, Scott Hermo, has made Bluff City BBQ a family-friendly, casual, funky and fun environment where it is also BYO! The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week, with weekend brunch to follow.
As a former Wall Street bond broker/trader, the Nutley-born Hermo had an deniable passion for food and cooking, that it was only evident that he eventually trained at the International Culinary Center in NYC, completing its Culinary Entrepreneurship Program. From there, the sky was the limit!
At Bluff City BBQ, another unique characteristic is the handcrafted elements within the restaurant. As you would expect, Hermo sourced and built most of the furniture and decor himself, salvaging antique wooden doors and lumber from in and around Montclair. He had a vision of refashioning them into tables and benches as seen through the pictures; as well as reclaiming tin ceiling panels, molding and porch posts that appear throughout the 90-seat space.Still intrigued by this amazing individual?
Thankfully, Scott Hermo of Bluff City BBQ had some time to spare for a quick Q&A:
Q: How and why did you decide to open a restaurant in Montclair?
A: I have lived in Montclair for 23 years and have been working on this idea for a long time. When I finally decided to quit my job and pursue this new venture, I really didn’t even think about another location. I live just a few blocks away from the restaurant and that will allow me to have some balance in my life while still putting in the time necessary to make the restaurant a success.
Q: How did you come up with the restaurant name, Bluff City BBQ?
A: In my previous job I attended a yearly outing in Memphis, Tennessee every May, which coincided with the “Memphis in May Barbecue Championship.” It was these experiences that got me interested in BBQ and the uniquely American culture surrounding it. My original idea (developed close to 20 years ago) was to call it Beale Street BBQ (after the historic street lined with blues bars and restaurants) but when I finally started to plan I saw a guy in Maine had beat me to it. So I did some research and found that Memphis was nicknamed “The Bluff City” for its location situated on the bluffs above the Mississippi River.
Q: What are some expectations for your restaurant?
A: I need the restaurant to be a financial success, but just as important to me is to create a business that will provide jobs and opportunities for people who are passionate about food and hospitality. We are also working hard to create a menu with a core of quality BBQ and Southern fish dishes as well as healthy updated spins on traditional sides and creative Southern themed desserts. This core will be supplemented by a revolving selection of seasonal side dishes and fruit desserts.
Q:What is your fondest memory when you first started crafting food?
A: My maternal grandmother was a great country cook, having grown up on a farm in Missouri and lived her whole life in the Midwest. Toward the end of her life I phoned her to ask for her apple crumb pie recipe — it was so simple yet fantastic. I still have the scrap of paper I scribbled all the ingredients and instructions on.
Q: How did you decide to become a chef?
A: I really am not comfortable being called a chef. I don’t have any traditional training and I have a huge amount of respect for the time and effort it takes to become a true chef. I have been cooking for a long time and doing BBQ for close to 20 years, and it is really something I did because I loved the whole process of researching recipes, gathering all the ingredients and then preparing a meal that made my family and friends happy.
Q: What’s your advice to individuals interesting in pursuing a career in the culinary arts?
A: These days it seems that every industry is replacing people with machines. If you are passionate about food, get some professional training and follow your dream. People will always need to eat.