Mable’s Smokehouse, Greenpoint’s first Southern-style BBQ outpost that opened its doors on January 24th, is just about as pared down as it gets. There are no bells and whistles, no fancy cocktails, no elaborate décor. What they’ve got instead is meat, potatoes, classic sides and a healthy dose of family tradition hailing all the way from Oklahoma.
Meet Meghan Love and her husband Jeff Lutonsky, the owners of Mable’s Smokehouse, affectionately named after Lutonsky’s grandmother who passed down to her grandson a love of cooking—not to mention all of her specialty and top-secret recipes for southern favorites. Mable’s is their first restaurant, though both approach the challenge with a tremendous amount of experience: Love has worked in various capacities of the restaurant industry for years, while Lutonsky grew up working in his mother’s restaurants.
Mable’s, which is located at 44 Berry Street, in a warehouse that used to be an old tonic water factory, is designed to be a stripped-down BBQ joint featuring southern favorites like pulled pork, brisket and sausages imported all the way from Oklahoma.
“Our heart and soul is in it,” Love said. In addition to the menu, Love and Lutonsky built the entire restaurant from scratch: Lutonsky, in addition to working as an artist, is something of a freelance carpenter at heart. “All the recipes were Grandma Mable’s. The BBQ sauce is very, very top secret, and the pie crust is really special.”
The idea to create their own Southern-style restaurant was borne out of a tragedy: When Lutonsky’s mother passed away, and his grandmother shortly thereafter, he worried the family cooking traditions would be lost and decided to preserve them, with a Brooklyn twist.
“It’s simple country fare—like if you pulled up to a roadside BBQ in Oklahoma,” Love explained. “Just simple country food.”
Love, who used to work at restaurants specializing in innovative and elaborate cocktails, crafted Mable’s bar is stark opposition to cocktail culture.
“We’ve got three vodkas. I want it to be the antithesis of the trend. I want this place to be basic, simple and good quality. Nothing artisanal or anything like that.”
Mable’s has got meat covered—Lutonsky, who serves as the head chef, has his own smoker that can accommodate 300 pounds of meat—as is the Southern tradition, but throws an extra-special focus on their sides, ranging from mac n’ cheese and potato salad to collard green and grilled beans. They even offer a vegetarian sandwich in the spirit of Sloppy Joe’s.
While scouting locations for Mable’s Smokehouse, Love and Lutonsky stumbled upon the warehouse on 44 Berry and had what Love described as an “ah ha!” moment.
“We moved to New York ten years ago. I love this neighborhood, I’ve seen it grow. I wanted to be close to the park because of BBQ: People in the park love to get some carry-out BBQ in the summer.”
Despite the recent opening of Southern-style restaurants in North Brooklyn like Fette Sau and Pies n’ Thighs, Love believes there’s plenty of room for everyone, and looks at these restaurants as companions rather than competition.
“BBQ is timeless in terms of tradition. It’s hearty, meaty goodness,” she said. “It feels like a resurgence, but I think it’s about coming back to basics. We’ve seen so much political and economic greed in this country. People appreciate simplicity. It’s comforting.
“We feel lucky to be in the company of these great chefs and restaurants, but you know, it’s a big neighborhood!”
44 Berry Street