Location, Location, Location. No doubt that’s what the builders of the pre-WWII Chevron service station had in mind when selecting its site at the interchange of US 9W and what was then NYS 23 leading up to Jefferson Heights from Main Street in Catskill, NY. Some 80 years on, Jim & Jill Sterling had a different type of re-fueling in mind when they renovated this classic Catskill-Brick structure into a meat-lovers destination and opened J&J Smokehouse BBQ.
The Sterlings certainly did their homework before taking on this major renovation. They knew the site has great drive-by traffic as virtually everybody who works downstreet passes it at least twice a day. Folks who live in the village but work in the heights drive or walk by as well. Drivers on their way to Thruway Exit 21, teachers and students at CHS, people with business at the town, village or county offices and courts – the potential customer list goes on!
The property had certainly seen better days when the Sterlings took ownership in 2018. A half-century of full-service gas station and repair garage traffic had taken its toll when the building was decommissioned into office space use in the 1970s. The painted brick exterior was covered with T111 plywood siding. The approach steps were not ADA-compliant. The flat roof over the garage bays needed replacement, and the concrete floors were crumbling. It was clear they were going to need a contractor with expertise in a wide range of building and renovation work.
They found a true partner in J. Wase Construction Corp. just up the road, less than 2 miles from the site. Demolition and renovation began with the removal of the plywood siding revealing the historic Catskill-Brick construction underneath decades of layers of paint. Restoration of this aesthetic asset would prove to be the both extensive and rewarding, as the re-pointed façade and interior walls contribute greatly to the look and feel of building and add a unique element to the J&J Smokehouse BBQ brand.
Structural additions were also significant with the addition of the integrated smoker unit adjacent to the kitchen, complete with automated ventilation and safety systems.
The steel I-beam supporting the flat roof trusses over the garage bays inspired the owners to up-size the replacement trusses to accommodate the weight of a roof deck overlooking the Catskill Creek (look for that in year 3 of operation).
The renovation process also proved to be a marketing asset, as so many potential customers passed the site every day, admiring the work, and wondering “what’s going to be there?” Jill and her team started social media posting early, and when the logo was installed on the building in early summer, mouths began to water throughout the area.
When the final touches were put on the restored parking area, supplies deliveries arrived, and the barrier pylons and tape were removed in mid-August, the only thing left to go was a successful Health Department inspection for the smoking-good fare to come to market.
J&J Smokehouse BBQ offers a wide range of fall-off-the-bone tender taste-ables
From chicken, to pork, to ribs, brisket, pastrami and hot link sausage, this Catskill-Style barbeque is dry rubbed and smoked for up to 18 hours before being served to customers who can choose to add signature sauces including: Hot, Sweet, Mango/Habanero and NY Vinegar. Sides cover the gamut from traditional accompaniments like baked beans, cold slaw, and cornbread to uniquely flavorful garlic mashed potatoes, homemade pickles, and roasted veg.
Aptly described as “Deep in the Middle of Everywhere” this soon-to-be favorite for true barbeque lovers welcomes walk in traffic, but also enables advance on-line ordering at jjsmokehousebbq.com “When You Fully Insist On Not Cooking Tonight”. Alerts are sent out when your order is ready, and since you’re probably driving by anyway, pick-up is a breeze.
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