Marc and Gretchen Garofoli have been involved with a number of Northeast Ohio restaurants, but they recently made the plunge with their very own business. Located in Chesterland, Oak & Embers Tavern (8491 Mayfield Rd., 440-729-3480) specializes in three of life's greatest things: barbecue, bourbon and beer.
"My wife and I do all of the cooking using recipes that we've put together over the years working in various restaurants," explains Marc. "We've only been open for three weeks, but we're doing pretty well. I'm really happy with how things are going."
The old Murphy's Tavern was gutted to create a clean, open and comfortable dining room for 100 guests. When completed, the patio will accommodate another 40. An old bar was deconstructed and rebuilt using original parts and reclaimed lumber. Mason jars were converted into lights.
A custom-built Nolen smoker was shipped in from Missouri. In it, 300-pound batches of beef brisket are smoked over hickory logs (not chips or, god forbid, pellets) for 16 hours. Pork shoulders are smoked for 12 hours before being pulled for platters and sandwiches. Also coming out of the pit are baby back ribs, half chickens, sausage, chicken wings and chicken thighs, which are pulled and stuffed into tacos. The two main housemade sauces are a Carolina mustard sauce and a bourbon barbecue.
Scratch-made sides include apple slaw, cheddar grits, baked beans and cornbread.
At present, there are 20 different bourbons on the list, with flights of three 2-ounce pours available. There are 10 craft draft beers and another 60 in the bottle.
"We provide a homemade comfort food that seems to be a good fit for the easy-going personality of the community," adds Marc. "We love barbeque and everything else about the South."