By Shari Valenta
Imagine visiting a barbecue restaurant in the Deep South. What first comes to mind are the sounds of a banjo intermingled with the smells of fried okra and a plate of hot spicy ribs. A down-home friendly hostess greets people with her southern hospitality. There’s a huge, open barbecue pit filled with slow-smoking pork. Flames rise from the wood fire as a big brawny man built like a coal miner laboriously sections meat on a cutting block.
Bono’s Pit Barb-B-Q smokes meat on an open pit all day long. Patrons may watch their selection as it’s hand cut and served on a platter with their choice of sauce.
“Our sauces are the best,” said one of the owners, Alex Liesegang. “There are four different kinds. There’s a regular mustard sauce, a spicier mustard sauce and a sweet and tangy variety, which is very popular in the south. We also have the traditional Memphis red style sauce.”
Bono’s is a franchise from Jacksonville, Fla., that has been smoking mouthwatering meats since 1949. In March of this year, it opened its first location west of the Mississippi River on Dry Creek Road near I-25.
Brothers Alex and Jason Liesegang are also from Jacksonville. They enjoy the casual, fun environment of running their business together, and agree that this location sizzles, because there’s very little competition.
“We’re a southern barbecue, which is entirely different from anything else you can get out here, where you can find mostly Memphis or Texas style barbecue,” said Jason Liesegang.
What is the difference between different regions of barbecue?
“Originally, if you killed a hog and ate only one third of it, the rest had to be preserved in some way,” explained Jason Liesegang. “Refrigeration hadn’t been invented yet, so you would smoke it and soak it in vinegar. That’s originally how barbecue started in the south.
“It all started in South Carolina and Georgia with the vinegar and mustard based sauces that Bono’s has used since 1949. As you move west towards Texas, the ingredients change slightly from the original. You get a little bit more pepper and tomato based influences.”
The original sauce just celebrated its 60th anniversary and Bono’s is celebrating by running specials on a full rack of ribs for $11.99 with two sides. They also are offering one dollar off all platters daily.
Alex Liesegang says the best things on the menu are the pork ribs and the baby back ribs. The most unique thing on the menu is something called Brunswick stew.
“The recipe originated in Brunswick, Georgia,” said Jason Liesegang. “In the old days, they used to make it with chicken, rabbits, squirrels and vegetables. Obviously, rabbits and squirrels aren’t the healthiest or the most sanitary animals to be consuming, so we use the same old recipe, but now we use chicken and sausage. It’s a little bit different. Nobody out here has Brunswick stew; it’s the best, but it’s been an uphill battle selling it out here.”
The other unique aspect of their restaurant is their pit boss, Anthony Hardy, affectionately referred to as “Easy.” Hardy has worked for Bono’s for over 15 years. He’s the one-man show that performs in front of the open barbecue pit. He is, in fact, easy going and good naturedly chats with customers as he hand cuts all the meat.
“Easy is from Jacksonville,” explained Jason Liesegang. “He was born and raised there, and never left there until now. The farthest west Easy has been was Atlanta. He’d never been in a plane or never saw snow until two weeks ago. When it snowed the other day, he took one of our shovels out back and put his bottom right on it and slid down the hill.”
The brothers chuckled.
“That was when he decided he would stay,” Jason Liesegang said.
Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q is located at 9393 E. Dry Creek Rd. For catering, call 303-850-RIBS. Hours of operation are 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Mon. through Fri., and 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Sat. through Sun. For more information, visit [http://www.bonosbarbq.com].