Martin Hage’s barbecue has developed a strong enough following among his family and friends that he and partner Susan Lennon think it can translate to a restaurant of their own.
Smoke BBQ (4858 Cordell Ave.) has been in the works all year and is still at least a few weeks away from opening, but Lennon says the pair thinks it is a natural fit for Cordell Avenue.
“Bethesda is booming with all the growth and development and there’s really no barbecue around here,” Lennon said. “[Hage] got used to making food for a lot of people at one time and we stort of started talking about a restaurant. We saw it as a great opportunity.”
Lennon, who worked in the restaurant industry in Baltimore, will be the eatery’s general manager. Hage grew up and lives in Bethesda. He’ll bring his slow-smoked ribs, pulled pork and pulled beef that Lennon said earned him “a sort of religious following,” at Super Bowl parties and holidays to the restaurant.
Smoke BBQ will also offer homemade fruit pies, brownies, cheesecakes and other deserts.
“That’s a really important aspect of it, trying to maintain that tradition,” Lennon said.
Lennon described Hage’s cooking as a fusion of of barbecue styles. He’ll offer a traditional BBQ sauce, vinegar sauces and a hot BBQ sauce.
When finished, it will be a rare barbecue-focused spot in Bethesda. The O’Brien’s Pit Barbecue stand (8804 Old Georgetown Rd.) near Suburban Hospital and bigger restaurants such as Hard Times (4920 Del Ray Ave.) have also become barbecue favorites.